ALEXANDRA, Va. — NACS and Conexxus, its standards-setting partner, are introducing a new digital identification solution that enhances current age-verification systems at all points of sales while protecting user privacy.
The TruAge solution makes the conventional carding experience more convenient and accurate, transcending beyond traditional store register to online ordering, home delivery and curbside pickup — services that have grown in popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic, the associations noted.
TruAge makes it easier and more accurate to verify a customer's age when purchasing age-restricted products, and at the same time makes identity theft difficult. A customer's date of birth and photo are used to verify identity. Then, when confirming age and identity, one-time-use tokens are placed on the customer's mobile device to confirm legal age to purchase age-restricted products.
The solution is already supported by more than 130 retail companies that represent 22,000-plus convenience stores in the United States, plus four industry point-of-sale (POS) providers.
TXB convenience stores and Kwik Chek Food Stores in the Austin, Texas, area, will pilot TruAge with additional markets testing the solution later this year.
"TruAge provides the least expensive method to reliably verify the age of our customers through the numerous face-to-face authentications already conducted in our stores. It does not expose sensitive personal information and is an important step toward eliminating youth access to adult products. No stand-alone POS system can do this today," said 2020-21 NACS Chairman Kevin Smartt, who is the CEO and president of Kwik Chek/TXB stores.
Additionally, Molson Coors Beverage Co. is the first major global beer company to support TruAge.
"Encouraging people to enjoy our products responsibly is at the cornerstone of our business," said Jim Hughes, vice president of convenience for Molson Coors. "We are excited to be an early supporter of this technology that we believe will help reduce underage access to our products and can be expanded across all our major markets."
A national consumer survey conducted by NACS in 2020 found that 90 percent of Americans support a nationwide standard for age-verification and 78 percent want a universal, compulsory approach for all age-restricted purchases.
More than three in four respondents (76 percent) also said they would support the development of an age-verification program by major retailers that sell age-restricted products, and most consumers ages 21 to 30 said they would download the TruAge app after hearing a description of what it is and how it works.
"Our industry conducts 165 million transactions a day, and 50 million of them involve an age-restricted product. Consumers tell us that age-verification is essential to restrict access and sales to minors, and it is even more important today as new forms of last-mile delivery add challenges to making sure all online orders and deliveries of age-restricted products are legal," said NACS President and CEO Henry Armour.
"We believe that consumer preferences for fast, safe and accurate digital age-verification are important as channels blur and more age-restricted products are sold through non-traditional formats," he added, noting that TruAge will expand beyond the convenience retail channel and become "the de facto standard for age-verification across all businesses that sell age-restricted products such as restaurants and bars, as well as online providers."
NACS has led efforts to restrict youth access to age-restricted products for the last 50 years, from launching training programs and videos to cofounding the We Card program, which is supporting efforts to bring TruAge to market.
"TruAge can accelerate the three biggest demands that consumers are asking of retailers: Give me a fast, frictionless experience, provide more last-mile delivery options beyond the storefront and protect my privacy," said Conexxus Executive Director Gray Taylor.
TruAge is free to retailers, consumers and POS providers, and its relevant intellectual property will be placed in the public domain, removing significant barriers to adoption. More information is available here.
Based in Alexandria, NACS is a global trade association dedicated to advancing convenience and fuel retailing. It promotes the role of convenience stores as positive economic, social and philanthropic contributors to the communities they serve and is a trusted advisor to more than 1,500 retailer and 1,500 supplier members from more than 50 countries.