In this TechBullion exclusive interview with Matt Fields, you see why the AgeChecker.net FDA eCig & Tobacco Products Online Authentication API Solution is one of the hottest innovations in Regtech and why BankCard USA Merchant Services Inc. acquired AgeChecker.net.
Please tell us your name, about yourself and your experience in Regtech?
My name is Matt Fields. I’ve been involved in various facets of the tobacco industry, first as a business owner overseeing day-to-day operations including credit card processing, shipping, receiving, taxes, web development, and compliance. I joined BankCard USA’s team in 2016 to oversee payment gateway integrations for various age-restricted industries. Backed by 15 years of full stack web development experience in regulated ecommerce and expertise analyzing payment processing trends, I was able to help lead BankCard USA’s acquisition of AgeChecker.net. I now serve as Vice President, overseeing the expansion of AgeChecker.net into a multi-industry compliance tool that is universally compatible with ecommerce platforms and custom developments.
What is AgeChecker.net?
AgeChecker.net is an identity and age verification solution designed to prevent underage sales for age-restricted websites.
Tell us about the AgeChecker.net features, how does it work and what specific solutions are you providing?
AgeChecker.net comes as a plug-in for most major ecommerce platforms, giving merchants an out-of-the-box solution to improve compliance with age regulations. For developers who want to build out a custom workflow, we offer API documentation and guidance to do so.
AgeChecker.net appears as a pop-up when a customer is checking out, and asks them to enter date of birth. It pulls name and address from the customer’s billing information. It uses those three pieces of information (name, address, and date of birth) to cross-reference against several major U.S. data networks with whom we are partnered. 90% of customers can be verified instantly by finding a match in these databases. We also utilize a proprietary database to recognize repeat customers on any website using AgeChecker.net so that they can be verified instantly. If we are unable to instantly verify a customer, we prompt them to submit a photo ID (driver’s license, state-issued identification card, or passport), which is manually verified by our 24/7 live team in a matter of seconds. Artificial intelligence is also at play during this process to implement our fraud prevention techniques. Once a customer is verified, they can proceed with their order.
Main features include localization tools that allow businesses to automate the minimum age requirement for different states and international orders, IP and region blocking tools, customized text options for our pop-up, and 24/7 phone and email support for our clients’ customers. We offer complimentary, same-day installation and continued integration support. Because AgeChecker.net is highly customizable, our client base has the freedom to use a feature for verifying phone orders, require an ID for every purchase, apply the software to certain items on their website while bypassing others, exclude wholesale buyers, track verification logs, and meet criteria set by different governing bodies depending on industry.
The FDA has just implemented new guidelines preventing underage online consumers from buying e-cigarettes, tobacco products or “vaping.” How does AgeChecker.net solve this problem for online businesses?
On March 13th, the FDA released an addition to their previous proposal of requiring “heightened practices for online age verification” in the vape industry. That addition was an example of what those heightened practices look like; specifically, a third-party service that independently validates age via public records match. That’s exactly what AgeChecker.net does. We will continue to solve the problem of underage sales for online businesses by following the FDA’s guidelines and adapting to any future specifications they release.
What makes AgeChecker.net the best FDA eCig & Tobacco Products Online Authentication API Solution compared to other Regtech solutions in the market?
We want the age verification process to be as unobtrusive for the customer checking out as possible, so the speed and efficiency of our compliance software is a distinguishing factor. We minimalize the wait time for customers to be verified. Additionally, when a person cannot be automatically verified, we provide an alternative solution by allowing them to submit a photo ID from any device. Our 24/7 customer support team is available via phone or email to walk them through the process or answer any questions they may have.
On the business end, our complimentary, same-day installation sets us apart. If a company wants age verification but doesn’t have a big IT team to install software, all they have to do is sign up and request installation from us, and we’ll have them up and running immediately. On the other side of the spectrum from this plug-and-play option, larger businesses with development teams enjoy the freedom of customizing our API to suit their specific goals.
Tell us about BankCard USA Merchant Services Inc. and the recent acquisition of AgeChecker.net.
BankCard USA Merchant Services Inc. has provided payment processing services since 1993, with one specialization in age-regulated markets. Because of its longstanding, varied partnerships, BankCard USA can accommodate a variety of business types, including those that are “high risk.” When the vape industry emerged in the U.S., BankCard USA immediately became a major player in that space. We were able to help vape businesses sell online when other processors couldn’t. For that reason, BankCard USA is a reputable resource and has a large, growing portfolio of merchants in need of online age verification. We acquired AgeChecker.net to bridge the gap between age-restricted markets and the compliance resources crucial to their viability and growth. We saw an opportunity to make such a resource more accessible to our existing clientele, promote awareness, and also streamline the responsibilities of our underwriting and risk teams (and those of other merchant service providers). They can easily ensure merchants are operating according to best practices, instead of trusting that the company is checking IDs from their own back end. All in all, it makes compliance efforts simpler and more effective for all parties involved—businesses, underwriters, risk staff, industry regulators, and adult customers.
Are there any partnership or investment opportunities you will like to share with us from AgeChecker.net?
We are in the early stages of developing partnership and investment opportunities, and welcome discussion with interested parties. We are always looking for ways to expand and reach a wider audience.
Is there any legal or insurance coverage for AgeChecker.net users?
No, we are transparent about being a best practices tool, and do not make any guarantees. For example, it’s possible for a customer of legal age to purchase age-restricted products and resell them to a minor. Unfortunately, that’s a risk of any age-restricted sale, whether it occurs online or in a retail store. There are, of course, additional risks in any kind of ecommerce. We can’t prevent identity theft; but we can help businesses filter products to their target audiences, while blocking youth access.
Could you tell us about your professional team and support staff?
Our professional team and support staff are highly trained in what they do, and passionate about keeping products meant for adults out of kids’ hands. We are proud to have a driven group of professionals that share a common growth mindset. It’s not uncommon for a member of our verification team to propose ideas to our developers, or a member of our sales team to resolve technical issues for a client. Clients appreciate that they can call our office and speak to the same person about age verification or their merchant account. It’s this inter-departmental connectivity and genuine interest from our staff to continuously reach new heights that make AgeChecker.net a unique firm. Our expertise covers an unprecedented niche, where payment processing meets identity solution.
Do you have more information for our readers?
We invite readers to demo our service at AgeChecker.net and feel free to reach out with any questions or comments. Feedback is important to us, and we hope to continue fine-tuning our product to best meet our customers’ needs.
For more information, visit: AgeChecker.net