Stories and insights from the world of digital identity
We’re joining a movement of thousands that believe in a fair day’s pay We’re proud to announce that Yoti has received accreditation and joined thousands of organisations, businesses and people across the UK that support the real Living Wage. So what is it? It’s the only UK wage rate voluntarily paid by businesses who believe their staff deserve a pay that allows them to earn enough to live on and meet their everyday needs. Yoti has always been completely committed to the welfare of our staff and we value everybody across the company. We pay £11.05+ an hour in London, and £9.90+ an hour to UK employees outside of London, and this extends to our third party contracted staff such as cleaners and security.
We’re really proud of our age estimation technology, but it’s important to us that we tackle some common misconceptions. So we’ve answered some of the most important questions we get asked about age estimation. What is age estimation? Our facial age estimation technology accurately estimates a person’s age based on a selfie. We built it to give everyone a secure way to prove their age without sharing their name or ID document. This privacy-friendly approach doesn’t require any personal details or ID documents, and all images are instantly deleted once someone receives their estimated age – nothing is ever viewed by a human. It can’t link a name to a face or identify anyone. This is the difference between facial analysis and facial recognition. How does it estimate age? The technology has been trained to estimate age by looking at facial features in an image. To the technology, the image is simply a pattern of pixels, and the pixels are numbers. Our facial age estimation technology has been trained to spot patterns in numbers, so it learns ‘this pattern is what 16 year olds usually look like’. Is it facial recognition? No. The technology uses facial analysis to estimate a person’s age without identifying or recognising any individual. When estimating age, it doesn’t cross-check people against a big database of faces, it simply estimates the age of the image presented to it. The technology never knows or learns the name or identity of a person. This has been acknowledged by multiple regulators and has prompted the ICO to update their definition of biometrics and agree that “Yoti’s age estimation tool will not result in the processing of special category data”. Where did the data come from to train age estimation? Most of it comes from Yoti app users. We use the photo from an ID document and the date and year of birth. We ask them to allow us to use the data to train our technology during the account creation process. Those users can withdraw their approval to use their data for training purposes at any time through the Yoti app. All our data for under 13 year olds has been collected specifically for the purposes of training the age estimation model and the parents or guardians have freely given consent during a specific data collection exercise. We have ensured we have obtained a balance of gender identities, images and different skin tones to minimise bias in the algorithm – we have not used any images scraped from the internet. Is the technology more accurate than humans at estimating age? It can be difficult for humans to be sure whether someone is over 18 just by looking at them. When guessing the age of another person, we tend to underestimate the age of older people, and overestimate the age of younger people. Our ability to estimate accurately tends to decrease as we ourselves get older. That’s why policies such as ‘Challenge 25’ exist, which ask customers to prove their age if they appear to be under 25. This builds in a safety buffer of 7 years given the legal age for buying alcohol in the UK is 18. Age estimation can be configured to work with legal age thresholds in a similar way. A retailer using age estimation at self-checkouts can build in a buffer of 7 years, meaning anyone estimated to be under the age of 25 will not pass and will need to prove their age another way. If we look at the accuracy of the technology when estimating the age of an 18 year old, there is a mean absolute error (MAE) of 1.22. This means an 18 year old could be estimated to be 17 or 19 years – too high or too low. This is why businesses using age estimation can use a threshold, like Challenge 25, to have greater confidence that someone under the age of 18 would not be able to buy an age restricted item. Another way to measure the accuracy of age estimation is using a True Positive Rate (TPR). This is the probability that an actual positive will test positive, meaning an 18 year old is correctly estimated to be under 23. The TPR for 13-17 year olds correctly estimated as under 23 is 99.65%. This gives regulators a very high level of confidence that nobody underage will be able to access age-restricted content, and the technology can be used in a variety of settings to strengthen age checks – retailers selling age restricted items, adult websites or content providers, and gambling terminals. We continually measure the accuracy of our technology and improve it. Is it biased against skin tones? At Yoti, we take our ethical responsibilities as a company developing new technology very seriously. The data (face image and month and year of birth only) used to train the algorithm is obtained by Yoti in accordance with the UK GDPR during the onboarding process for the Yoti app or using consented data collection exercises. We train our AI with images from a wide demographic of society and then test how well it estimates people’s age for different genders and skin tones. This allows us to see where it needs to improve so we can train the model in those areas. We also invest heavily to minimise bias and make sure it works well for everyone. You can see in our white paper that there’s minimal bias across gender and skin tone for 6-12 year olds, with more bias for older adults. While this is something we’re improving, it’s more important that the model is accurate for 18-25 year olds. Is age estimation secure? We created age estimation to give everybody a secure, private way of proving their age. Security, therefore, isn’t just a priority, it’s fundamental to everything we do. Privacy is a key consideration of age estimation – there’s no login required or the need for an account with Yoti. People simply present their face to a webcam or camera on a device, and as soon as their age has been estimated from that image, the captured image is deleted. We have been independently audited both by the ICO and KPMG on this process of deleting images. The ICO’s report is public and KPMG’s is available on request. We also commission regular external audits of our business and have been certified to meet some of the world’s most stringent security standards, such as ISO27001 and SOC2 Type II. Is my privacy protected? Yoti’s facial age estimation is built in accordance with the Privacy by Design principle in the UK GDPR. No individual can be identified by the model and it is designed to minimise the data shared, so instead of requesting an ID document, it just needs an image. This image is never seen by a human and is deleted as soon as the age has been estimated. We also designed it so that no individual can be identified by the model. For this reason, the ICO has stated that it can be distinguished from facial recognition technology, as it’s not being used for the purpose of uniquely identifying individuals. Instead, it’s used to categorise people by age. They concluded that our age estimation tool will not result in the processing of special category data. How is age estimation currently being used? Instagram is using the technology to verify the age of users in the US that change their date of birth from under 18 to 18 or over to make sure both teens and adults are in an age-appropriate experience for them. Social network Yubo uses age estimation to check the age of users, ensuring 13-14 years olds are not engaging with adults. UK supermarkets have trialled age estimation at self-checkouts to give shoppers an easy and quick way to prove their age, without needing to show an ID document or wait for assistance. During the trial, shoppers purchasing alcohol could simply look at a camera on the self-checkout to verify their age before completing their purchase. If the system detected a customer looked younger than 25, they could prove their age through the free Yoti app instead. For those who did not wish to use this technology, they still had the option of showing their ID document to a member of supermarket staff. Any other questions? We hope that this answers some of your questions about age estimation. If you still have any questions or would like to learn more about our technology, feel free to get in touch.
Making Yoti relevant and useful whilst preserving privacy We want to make sure that the Yoti app is useful to our whole community. We built Explore – a place where you can discover where you can use your digital ID. We also have some special offers for community members. This will look exactly the same in the Post Office EasyID app. Country-specific content In your digital ID app, you will only see content that is relevant to your country. This means that we only show you partners that you can use your digital ID with or offers that are available in your country. The app knows which country you are in by using your phone number’s country code. We do not use geolocation information to do this. This may mean that when you travel to a different country, you will still see offers only relevant to your phone number’s country code. Keeping children safe Some of the organisations that accept our digital ID apps require their users or customers to be over a certain age. For example, buying alcohol from an online store or using an age-restricted social media provider. To ensure we adhere to the UK Childrens’ Code and similar Childrens’ Codes that are evolving in other countries, all users will only see content that promotes age-restricted products once your digital ID app knows you are the appropriate age. Your app will only recognise you’re the appropriate age if you have uploaded your ID. The app will automatically be updated to show you appropriate content. This information about your age is not seen by anyone at Yoti because we cannot access your personal data. Our Privacy first approach means you will see content that may not seem relevant to you. Other than country-specific and age-related content, we will not (and cannot) show you content that is specifically appropriate for you. This is because we have no access to your online browsing history, and we do not record how you as an individual use the app. We do not ‘learn’ from your behaviours. When you click on an Explore card, we do not track your onward journey. We do not and will not send or sell any of your personal data to the next site that you visit unless you expressly consent via your app to share the data. You always have to consent to sharing information with other companies if you choose to visit their site. This means that using your digital ID app is much more like going to your local shopping mall than typical online shopping. We think this is a better, more private way to shop. You make all the decisions. No one is trying to nudge you towards buying something. You are simply able to browse anonymously without anyone knowing what things interest you. Making content more relevant in the future As we get more partners and offers into the app, we will try to make the offers more relevant to you. But we will still never profile you. To start with, you will be able to filter by category. So, if you just want to see what special offers are available, you will be able to go straight there. If you just want to get some advice on how to stay safe online, the information will be there. As we develop further we will let you tell us what information you’d like to see. And to reiterate, if you never want to see offers and simply want to read the latest news about Yoti, we will let you tell us what you want to see. If you then change your mind, you can always reset to see everything once again. In the meantime, please do use the Feedback area of the app to tell us more about the type of content you would find useful. Yoti sometimes makes money from partners and offers in the app We think it is important to be up front about the way businesses make money. Yoti makes money by charging businesses who need to verify your identity. Some of our partners also choose to feature their products within the Yoti app. We charge some of those businesses a small marketing fee, usually a percentage of the money you pay them. We always do our due diligence on partners promoted within our app to make sure they are legitimate businesses. However, it is important to clarify we are not a price comparison app. This means we cannot guarantee we will be showing you the lowest price for a product. We will, however, do our best to ensure it is a good deal for the community. By working with our business partners in this way we’re able to keep our app free for individuals like you. We have new businesses signing up every week to use Yoti. So make sure you check your Yoti app regularly to learn more about what we’re up to and see how you can make the most of your digital ID.
Scammers delight with fake online profiles Identity-related fraud is accelerating in the real world and particularly online, where it’s easy to hide and act behind a fake profile unchecked. Despite calls from victims and campaigners, most platforms don’t want to add friction into their user journeys in fear that people will migrate to another site. Fraud comes in a number of shapes and sizes, and the consequences can be physically, financially, and emotionally damaging. Whether someone is trying to sell stolen goods, committing romance scams, catfishing, or advertising property rentals that don’t exist, there are a whole host of fraud-related crimes and identity is often at the centre of it. The problem continues to grow. But, you can complete your own checks with Yoti and Post Office EasyID. Catch a catfish with peer-to-peer checks There is a solution if your platform of choice doesn’t ask people to prove that they are who they say they are. Anyone with the Yoti or EasyID app can swap their verified details with another person and be confident about who they are dealing with. It’s free and can be done in seconds. We created peer-to-peer checks to provide a versatile solution to build trust, transparency and improve online and face-to-face safety, one that you control. From people to pets, everyone is impacted We recently met Johnathan and Piotr from Creslow Corgis, who are 5 Star Licensed, Kennel Club Assured Breeders of Welsh Pembroke Corgis, wanted to protect themselves, their customers and their furry family members from the rising threat of dog-related crime. An estimated 2,000 dogs are reported as stolen each year in England and Wales. So, if you’re looking to buy a pet, how can you be sure that the breeders are legitimate and aren’t operating an illegal dog breeding business? Johnathan, Creslow Corgis: “The health, wellbeing, welfare and security of our dogs and pups is always our top priority. Demand for pups is soaring. And everyone wants their own Instagram star. This isn’t a good thing for the industry. Fraud and theft are increasing with rogue breeders, and puppy thefts from homes. People literally walking in and taking puppies from their families, days or even weeks old. It’s really quite scary when you think about it.” Well, that’s why Johnathan and Piotr use peer-to-peer checks. First of all, they can be sure that the customers are who they say they are and give the corgis a loving forever home. But also, customers can put their trust in the breeders, all the same, knowing that they haven’t lied about their identity. Johnathan, Creslow Corgis: “Over the years we’ve had to adapt our vetting process to improve security and protection. We need to be as confident as we can that the people we’re letting into our home are the right people. In a nutshell, for breeders and buyers alike, we all need to know who we’re dealing with. We needed to find a trusted, secure solution. It had to be affordable for small businesses like us.” The digital ID app is free, reusable, and privacy-preserving. So, if you request that someone share their details with you and they refuse, you might be better off taking your business elsewhere. Johnathan, Creslow Corgis: “We discovered Post Office EasyID and for us it’s the perfect solution. It gives us the assurance that people are who they say they are, whether you’re selling or buying a puppy or whether you’re putting your dog in daycare. So for us it’s a win, for our customers a win, and for our dogs and puppies it’s really a win.” EasyID - Swap verified details with buyers or sellers in seconds from Yoti Bill Lambert, spokesperson for The Kennel Club said “When buying a puppy, we always urge potential owners to conduct thorough research, and this includes making sure the breeder is a responsible and reputable source for buying their puppy from. Likewise, the breeder should be carrying out similar steps to find out as much about the purchaser that they can, so they have peace of mind that the buyer is genuine and that the pups are going to a permanent, loving home. Not only does this approach help to ensure that the puppy is well-bred, happy and healthy, but also minimises the risks of encountering scams and heartbreak.” Sounds too good to be true? Whether it’s buying and selling or dating and meeting, a peer-to-peer swap can save you emotional and financial pain and wasted time. It gives you the option to swap only the necessary information, so you don’t need to share more than you are comfortable with – unlike sending a copy of your ID, which could open you up to more fraud risks. Perfect for small businesses For a small business user, it’s the perfect way to gain and earn trust with customers. Paperwork free and cost-effective, you will save time on administrative processes in a way that is GDPR-aligned. What’s more, the tool comes from the Post Office brand that people across the UK widely trust. How it works Open the EasyID app. Tap Share and select the details you’d like to swap or share, like your photo or full name. Choose how to swap your details (via text, email or face to face). Once the other person has approved your request to swap details, you’ll get the exact same details from them. Do you know anyone affected by a scam that could have been prevented with our peer-to-peer checks? We’d love to hear from you to help fight fraud together.
It’s only been a month or so since the Post Office EasyID joined the Yoti ID app here in the UK and we’re delighted to share the progress we’ve made on our mission to build the UK’s trusted identity network. Over 85,000 people downloaded the Yoti or EasyID app to join our UK network in September alone, a positive indicator that many people want to take control of their data and protect their privacy with a safer way to prove who they are. Together we make it easier and safer for people to prove their identity and help businesses know who they’re dealing with. On average, you’re never more than a mile from a Post Office and you can now share your Yoti or EasyID in 10,500 branches across the country for collecting mail or buying a lottery ticket. Watch this space for more great ways to use your digital ID in your local Post Office branch. We’ve also added over 20,000 convenience stores to the list of places that accept Yoti and now EasyID, which means there are over 31,000 UK high street locations to share your digital ID and this number continues to grow. We are excited to be starting our supermarket self checkout age verification trials and to see many more businesses joining the network over the coming weeks and months. If you haven’t already, it’s time to join the digital identity revolution!
People need cheaper, safer ways to prove who they are. Shockingly, 93 per cent of 16-34-year-olds take their important ID documents out with them every day, with only a minority keeping them safe and sound at home. It’s not convenient or safe to carry your passport or driving licence every day just to prove your age, so why do they do it? Well, it’s because they often need to prove their age to do everyday tasks, like buying an energy drink or going to the cinema. With that comes a greater risk of damaged, lost or stolen ID documents. Furthermore, over 11 million people in the UK don’t have a passport or driving licence, and the cost of getting one certainly can act as a deterrent, especially if they have no intent to travel overseas or drive. Everyone needs simpler, cheaper ways to prove their age, which is why Yoti launched the Yoti CitizenCard back in 2018 and now we are pleased to announce that our partners at Post Office are launching the new Post Office PASS card. Stop risking your important ID just to prove your age In the UK, over 1 million driving licences and 400,000 passports are lost, damaged or stolen each year. It’s much safer to leave these important documents at home, whether that’s to make sure you’re not paying £100 for an emergency passport for your holiday to Spain or not having your driving licence to hand when you need to hire a car. There is also the risk that because there is more personal information presented on your passport or driving licence that fraudsters could use your details to compromise your identity. What are PASS cards? Passports are for travelling, and driving licences are for driving. PASS cards are for proving your age. It currently costs £34 to get a provisional driving licence and £75.50 for a passport. The Post Office PASS card and Yoti CitzenCards cost just £15. PASS cards are official UK proof of age cards that display your photo, name and date of birth. You can use them to prove how old you are to most UK retailers, businesses and government-run institutions. The Yoti CitizenCard and Post Office PASS card are issued by CitizenCard and are government-approved proof of age cards that display a Home Office-endorsed PASS (Proof of Age Standards Scheme) hologram and UV mark. That’s how you know they are genuine. Both the Yoti CitizenCard and Post Office PASS card also have a QR code on the back that you can scan to further verify the card’s authenticity. At just £15, we believe that the Post Office PASS card and Yoti CitizenCard are affordable and accessible ways for people in the UK to prove their age and identity. Why should you get a PASS card? Suppose you are looking for a cheaper alternative to prove your age or simply don’t want the pressure and risk of taking your important documents out with you, a PASS card is a great option for you. Affordable: At £15, a PASS card costs less than other forms of physical photo ID and isn’t too expensive to renew if you lose it – it’s only £12 for a renewal. Fast: You can get your PASS card within 3 weeks. You can also choose the fast-track delivery option to receive it 1-2 days after verification. Private: You don’t need to show all your details when proving your age to businesses. PASS cards contain less sensitive data than a driving licence or passport with just your name, photo and DOB. Recognised: The National Proof Of Age Standards Scheme (PASS) scheme is endorsed by the Home Office, Scottish Government, National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) and the Security Industry Authority (SIA). You can use your PASS card to prove your age when: Going to nightclubs, bars and pubs and festivals Starting a new job to prove who you are Accessing housing services or claiming benefits Playing the lottery or buying scratchcards Renting a new home Visiting prisons Purchasing videos (DVDs or Blu-Ray discs) and computer games Applying for a UK driving licence Travelling on domestic flights within the Common Travel Area (England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, Channel Islands, Isle of Man). Making any other age-restricted entry or purchase, such as buying energy drinks, alcohol or cigarettes, access to 15 & 18 movies in the cinema Double your options with EasyID and Yoti You’re hardly ever without your phone. Once you have your PASS card, you can add it to your Post Office EasyID or Yoti app to prove your identity both online and in person. Just scan the front of your PASS card into your EasyID or Yoti app to create a reusable digital ID on your phone. The next time you need to quickly show your ID to buy a lottery ticket, pick up a parcel or apply for a job, you can use the app to share the information you need in person or online. If you haven’t already, download the Post Office EasyID or Yoti app from your app store. Find out here how you can easily create your digital ID. Get a PASS card for a simpler way to prove your identity Everyone should be able to prove their age when they need to. Whether you’re a parent worrying about your child taking their passport to the cinema, someone who doesn’t want to lose their ID when popping to the shops, or you’re simply looking for a more affordable way to prove who you are, a PASS card is an invaluable card to have in your wallet or purse. If you’d like to read more about the Post Office PASS card and find out how to apply please visit https://www.postoffice.co.uk/identity/pass-card