UK cinemas embrace digital IDs to verify age

Yoti cinema ID Image credit: Yoti

British cinema-goers aged 13 and above will now be able to use a smartphone app instead of a passport or driving licence to prove their age, thanks to a partnership with a UK digital identity startup.

The UK Cinema Association, which represents over 90% of UK cinema operators including Cineworld, Odeon, Showcase Cinemas and Vue, has struck an agreement for selected sites to accept digital IDs via the Yoti app.

The move is aimed at reducing friction between cinema staff and young film fans, who are less likely to have physical ID with them.

To use a digital ID at the cinema, film-goers can download the free Yoti app via the Apple App Store or Android Play. Next, they scan their physical photo ID using the smartphone camera to verify their identity.

This creates a digital ID card that can be shown upon request at the cinema ticket office and only reveals age information.

For further verification, cinemas can also scan the Yoti ID through its web app.

Participating cinemas will also accept the Post Office’s app EasyID.

“For many wanting to get into a ‘15’ or even ‘18’ certificate film, proving their age – without a passport or driving licence to hand – can be incredibly difficult and an understandable source of frustration should they be turned away from the cinema,” said Phil Clapp, CEO, UK Cinema Association.

Cinemas accepting digital IDs is the latest sign of the UK moving away from physical forms of identity checks. It comes as the UK government has proposed new legislation to make digital identities “as trusted and secure” as physical official documents.  Among the proposals is a requirement for digital identify companies to gain a “trustmark”.

“Young people expect to be able to do everything with their phone and using it to prove their age will come naturally to them. It’s a win-win for both cinemas and young cinema-goers,” said Yoti CEO and co-founder Robin Tombs, who recently appeared in UKTN’S Founder in Five Q&A series talking Amazon, funding advice and AI.

London-based Yoti’s digital verification software is also used by the Jersey Government, Scottish Improvement Service, The NHS, Virgin Atlantic and NSPCC.

Founded in 2014, Yoti has been bootstrapped until it recently looked to raise £8m-£10m to expand the company internationally.