Dive Brief:

  • A 24/7 store at the Stuttgart Airport in Germany is piloting an automated age verification solution from retail tech company Diebold Nixdorf that allows for the purchase of age-restricted items via self-checkout, according to a Tuesday announcement.
  • When customers scan a restricted item, such as alcohol, their faces can be analyzed with a camera on the machine and an AI algorithm to see if the customer is old enough for the purchase.
  • While 22% of overall retail transactions require age verification, according to the announcement, the category is particularly important for convenience stores. Three of the top five in-store sales categories were alcohol or tobacco items in 2022, according to industry data.

Dive Insight:

The prevalence of age-restricted items currently limits the effectiveness of self-checkout machines in convenience stores, given both shoppers and workers get slowed down by manual identification checks during checkout. If Diebold Nixdorf, or other companies in the market, can effectively and reliably automate age checks, that would make their technology even more appealing.

Diebold Nixdorf has more than 1.3 million point of sale systems installed worldwide and is one of the top five companies in ATMs and point-of-sale systems globally. Earlier this year, BP expanded its partnership with the technology firm, including adding and updating its self-checkout technology.

With the new smart-vision system, a camera installed in the kiosk analyzes a customer’s facial characteristics to see if they meet a “predefined threshold,” according to the announcement. If so, the purchase process continues. A staff member manually checks the identification of any customers who get flagged by the system, or who choose to opt out. 

In the first week the system was in use at the 24/7 store in Germany, more than 80% of transactions that included age-restricted items were automatically approved. The process usually takes 10 seconds or less. 

The technology is compliant with the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, given it neither uses facial recognition nor stores images or other customer data, Diebold Nixdorf said. 

It’s not the only company working on this tech. Zippin, for example, has implemented a system where customers can pre-verify their ID. They can then purchase alcohol at its checkout-free sites in stadiums with just a face scan.

The new Diebold Nixdorf technology was first unveiled earlier this year. In addition to age verification, the system also offers shrink protection and the ability to automatically detect different product items.

Use of computer vision and AI for age verification continues a trend of applying advanced technology to improve operational efficiency in stores. In April, for example, Standard AI announced it would move away from automated checkout and instead apply its computer vision tech to understanding in-store traffic patterns, reducing shrink and automatically noting low or out-of-stock items. 


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