Using a Mobile Driver’s License at Retail Stores


Verifying personal identification or age is an important part of doing business. Businesses of all sizes are relying on proof of identity for age-restricted purchases. When in line at the store to buy liquor or tobacco, nothing is worse than the realization that you’ve forgotten your driver’s license or ID card at home. Even if a customer looks well over the legal purchasing age, the cashier must verify their birthdate using a government-issued ID or the company could be put at risk. Usually, if one forgets their license, they are out of luck – but what if their driver’s license was safely and securely stored on their phone just like contactless payment options? A mobile driver’s license (mDL) can provide age verification safely and securely for retail purchases that require ID.

Authentication of a person’s ID without the need to physically change hands increases the safety for both the cashier and their customer. Additionally, an mDL puts the customer in control of their identity.  It also allows them to choose the amount of personal identity data that is shared for a transaction which is not possible with a physical driver’s license. While a traditional driver’s license gives a cashier access to all of a citizen’s personal data, mobile ID technology allows the mDL holder to only share the data required to complete a specific transaction. For example, a grocery store clerk may only receive a customer’s “over 21” status, photo, first name, and validity of the ID.

Mobile driver’s licenses provide a contactless “Tap & Go” ID transaction similar to tap and pay. Like a mobile wallet, for an mDL to be secure and effective you cannot simply show a photo, rendering, or mock-up of a license. Visual authentication is too easy to fake. Instead, ISO 18013-5-compliant mDLs are a trustworthy, official, government-issued driver’s license/ID. The government issuer e-signs the data and puts it under the control of the mDL holder (the citizen), to be used via electronic transfer. Store clerks (or any verifier) can authenticate eSignatures to immediately ensure the data is authoritative and not tampered with.

Here are a few examples of how mDLs can be used to streamline retail purchases:

Grocery Stores

In 2020, alcohol sales at grocery stores were up over 21% due to the pandemic. With many bars and restaurants unable to serve patrons, citizens turned to their local grocery stores (where grocery store liquor sales are legal) to make their alcohol purchases. Some states are considering loosening alcohol restrictions for retailers. This will increase the likelihood that more consumers will make alcohol purchases alongside their weekly bread and milk. Other age-verified purchases, like tobacco products can also benefit from mDL technology in grocery store settings.

Grocery Store Pharmacies

Many grocery stores now have in-house pharmacies making one-stop shopping even more convenient. Integrating mobile driver’s license technology at the pharmacy can help both customers and pharmacists save time and protect the customer’s identity. For example, a pharmacist can request only a user’s “contact information” (birthday, address, name, photo and validity of the ID). customers are able to keep other personal information private while providing only what they need to in order to complete the transaction.

Convenience Stores

Using mobile ID at convenience stores increases the “convenience” in a transaction. Similar to grocery stores, alcohol sales were up considerably at the height of the pandemic. With many stores seeing greater than usual foot traffic from customers, cutting down on transaction time and providing additional safety measures to protect identity data can help stores streamline the check-out process. Using a mDL at a convenience store allows a customer to share only the information required to make a purchase. Instead of sharing their address and other unnecessary personal information, the mDL holder can quickly and easily share their “over 21 status”. The cashier can remotely validate the information through electronic transfer.

Retail Stores

Outside of grocery and convenience store settings, many states require identification for the purchase of certain items in general retail stores. At home improvement stores, an mDL can be used to verify one’s address or age for the purchase of paint thinners as well as any aerosolized products, including air fresheners and spray paints. In big box retailers, purchasing over-the-counter medicine, like cough syrup and antihistamines, may require your ID to show proof of age. Using an mDL for the purchase of items that require identification allows the mobile ID holder to share only the information required to purchase their items.

Utilizing mobile driver’s license technology for retail settings put’s the customer in control of their data.  Businesses are able to safely verify their identity and/or age effectively. The convenience of mDL makes “showing your ID” as simple as tapping your phone to a reader or pulling up a scannable QR code. Put customers in control of their personal identity with GET mobile ID.

Find out how GET Group North America can support the contactless technology needs of grocery stores, pharmacies, convenience stores and other retailers here. Click here to schedule a 15-minute demo. 

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