Under-Age Checking – And Spending – Get Easier

Discussion
Aug 17, 2012

The first-of-its-kind chip and pin-secured card has just been introduced in the U.K. for youngsters over the age of 12. Bearing a government PASS mark (Proof of Age Standard Scheme) plus birthday and age band, the prepaid card enables young people to spend, but not overspend. It also prevents purchases for which they are too young.

Dubbed "CitizenCard," Convenience Store magazine reports it is being promoted as "a safe and useful alternative to cash" and "the perfect all-round solution for younger people looking to prove their age and pay for purchases." Andrew Chevis, chief operating officer of CitizenCard, anticipates that over-18s will be the card’s greatest users, especially as it saves them having to carry identification and cash when out and about.

British convenience stores selling the cards, costing £15, will receive commission. The lack of fees is said to make CitizenCard "highly competitive." The card can be loaded free-of-charge by bank transfer, standing order, online banking or at Barclays branches. One disadvantage is a £1 charge for cash withdrawals, but advantages include discounts from participating retailers and venues plus £2 referral rewards.

National Federation of Retail Newsagents chief executive Paul Baxter described the card as a "huge step forward for PASS Proof of Age. … The Visa logo and hologram will add to the acceptance of the card as valid ID, and the clear distinction between 12-15, 16-17 and 18 plus cards will help our members to comply with the ever-stringent laws on underage sales."

As for online purchases, various codes have been blocked as a precaution, although sites are still "responsible for recognising the card number which identifies the user’s age," according to thisismoney.co.uk.

Experience from American chain 7-Eleven may be useful. Scanners in
California earlier this year began checking codes on drivers’ licenses and other forms of identification when customers try to purchase products which cannot be legally sold to minors. The system takes compliance to "the next level," according to senior director of regulatory affairs Keith Jones. One franchisee quoted by sacbee.com believes pressure for sales associates will be reduced as "it will be easier to determine if [customers] are old enough and help us keep records used to verify [age and identity]."

Discussion Question: Would a combination age-verification and prepaid debit card be attractive to young American consumers as well as retailers?

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8 Comments on "Under-Age Checking – And Spending – Get Easier"

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Ken Lonyai
BrainTrust

No and no. American teens are not going to embrace being spotlighted for their age and will want to use cash to get around being carded. Retailers are not going to want yet another compliance burden that ultimately will chip away (a little) rather than increase revenues. Additionally, it will create another compliance police situation that no one will welcome and that will likely be fraught with issues and complaints. Until there’s a completely cashless society, these types of measures will be difficult to impose in the US.

Matt Schmitt
BrainTrust

Ouch. Let the privacy, regulatory, and general debate and hair pulling begin. I doubt we see anything soon gain traction on these shores.

For a similar example of controversy, let’s witness the upcoming fracas over Facebook’s attempts to open up access to younger users.

Max Goldberg
BrainTrust

Young Americans would want to carry any card that made them older in the eyes of merchants, and retailers would love any card that takes them off the hook for age-mandated purchases.

Seriously, any ID card will be “faked” by adolescents. Is it really necessary to add another card to the mix?

Ben Ball
BrainTrust

The black market in “18+ cards” will be huge! No need for further ID and I can buy beer and cigarettes. Perfect!

If anyone hears of an exchange being set up on this, I’d like to invest. Bernice?

Ralph Jacobson
BrainTrust

Although this may give some sense of independence for young teens, I agree with many of the points raised in the comments so far. My 16-year-old daughter has her own credit card on my account and I get a text message every time she uses it. I understand that may be somewhat dangerous in itself, however, it gives us both the choice and control we desire for her shopping experience. I don’t think we need another program that could be security-challenged.

Lee Kent
BrainTrust

But I would like a card that says I am over 21. I get so tired of having to pull out my license in the grocery or wine store when I am clearly over 21. Maybe we could make that over 35 so it is not as likely to be faked.

Dennis Serbu
Guest
Dennis Serbu
4 years 10 months ago

I think this (age verification and prepaid card) is the perfect answer to a question no one asked. Also an opportunity for fraud and misuse.

John Crossman
Guest
John Crossman
4 years 10 months ago

No. I don’t see the average American consumer liking this. The negative response back on this would far outweigh any benefit.

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