The future of biometric authentication and digital identity for bars is playing out in British nightclubs this year, amid beer, musical beats and potential love connections. Yoti, a U.K.-based startup that focuses on digital ID applications, said that Ocean Southampton, a club owned by The Deltic Group, has begun using an admittance system that relies on smartphones and QR codes, not drivers’ licenses and passports. The technology could soon enjoy even wider and more varied use in the United Kingdom.
The technology uses facial recognition to make it much more difficult for underage consumers to gain entry to drinking establishments
The Southampton nightclub reportedly decided to adopt the Yoti digital identity technology after two other bars that operated under the Deltic umbrella earlier tested the system in three-month trials. The technology uses facial recognition to make it more difficult for underage consumers to gain entry to drinking establishments—and to make it easier for legitimate customers to walk past the doors. Here is how the Yoti technology works:
- A consumer downloads for free the Yoti app to his or her smartphone.
- That consumer then takes a selfie and scans his or her photo ID.
- Yoti’s software makes sure the photo ID is indeed authentic, and then uses face recognition to match details of that ID to the selfie, checking that they represent the same person. Throughout this process, Yoti encrypts users’ personal data, with private keys stored on users’ smartphones to secure the information.
- Upon arrival at the bar for a night of fun and, perhaps, controlled debauchery, the user calls up the Yoti app and presents his or her smartphone to door personnel. A club employee uses a smartphone to scan the Yoti QR code, which confirms that the user is old enough for club entry.
“The technology will not only revolutionize our customers’ experience, it will also have an immensely positive impact on our business by reducing queuing times and drastically cutting down on fraudulent activity and attempted underage entry to our clubs,” said Tim Howard, marketing director of Deltic Group. Deltic Group owns some 65 nightclubs and plans to use the Yoti digital identification service at more of them.
Digital identity for bars to extend to dating sites
Nightclubs, however, stand as only one type of business that could benefit from Yoti’s facial recognition authentication technology. Yoti recently said that two U.K. supermarkets will this year test the digital identity system in stores for such age-restricted purchases as knives and alcohol. The idea is to allow consumers to buy such goods at self-service kiosks without the aid of human clerks. Yoti also envisions using the technology to verify identities on dating sites, where users often operate with at least a creeping suspicion that a potential mate is an imposter. If such tests are successful, the same tech that is providing digital identity for bars could extend into other phases of a user’s life.