February 12, 2022
1account, a specialist in age verification technologies, has started a trial of digital ID enabled vape vending machines, a decade since the sale of tobacco products from machines was banned in the UK to prevent them getting into under-aged hands.
The machine enables consumers to buy vape products from using a digital ID on their smartphones.
Part of a 12-month trial approved by Bucks & Surrey Trading Standards, the first of the new generation vending machines has been installed in the Leicester branch of specialist vape retailer Ecigwizard.
1account revealed that a household name grocery retailer will also trial the vending machines at its stores this spring with more brands set to follow. The advice from Trading Standards extends to high street retail, pubs and even NHS locations seeking to make their venues completely smoke free, they added.
“This pilot with Ecigwizard, and future trial partners, aims to evaluate if the sale of age restricted goods can form part of the continued expansion of this new generation of ‘smart’ vending machines which ensure children are not able to access age restricted products,” Ben Keirle, founder and chief excutive of 1account, said.
The company has integrated it software to machines built by leading, London based vending manufacturer Aeguana and is in discussion with other manufacturers.
How it works
To create the digital ID, vapers simply download the 1account’s app, upload a form of ID to prove their age and who they are, and take a selfie. This information is cross referenced and verified with multiple data points such as mobile phone records, and the digital ID is ready to go.
At the vending machine, the consumer simply selects the product they want before opening the app and scanning a QR code on the machine to unlock it. Then their identity information, including age and photo image, are intelligently checked and verified to ensure that the person making the purchase is over 18 and who they say they are. They then make a card payment and their product is dispensed.
1account said it carried out an extensive consultation process before launching the pilot to gauge demand and support for the vape vending machine concept, including engagement with Members of Parliament, Public Health England and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, smoking cessation experts including ASH, the New Nicotine Alliance and Smoke Free App, the UK Vaping Industry Association and various academic experts on vaping, including from King’s College, London.
Welcoming the announcement, John Dunne, director general of the UK Vaping Industry Association, said: “Vaping has been one of the most disruptive and successful business sectors in the 21st century. Innovation has been at the heart of its hugely positive impact on the health of former smokers and the country’s economy. The advent of the vape vending machine is another example of the innovative spirit within the sector which will support more smokers make a successful transition from conventional cigarettes to considerably less harmful vape products and at the same time boosting the retail economy.”
The introduction of the vending machine is part of 1account’s expansion plans to roll out its digital ID technology in shops selling age restricted products such as alcohol, knives and medications; as well as in establishments where it is illegal for U18s to be present including pubs, nightclubs and casinos.
“Today adult customers have greater than ever choice where they buy their vape products, including specialist vape retail stores, supermarkets, convenience stores, online and now vending machines,” Keirle said. “This is important as vaping is widely evidenced as the best way to quit smoking and therefore has a critical role to play in helping the government achieve its target of a smokefree England by 2030.”