With blockchain and cryptocurrency technologies being applied to such a wide variety of businesses, it may have only been a matter of time before these two trendy areas converged with another popular space: alcohol sales.

Back in 2016, a tech startup named Civic entered the arena, co-founded by "Shark Tank South Africa" star Vinny Lingham. Now, just two years later, the San Francisco-based company has plans to unveil the first "crypto beer vending machine" at Coindesk's Consensus 2018 conference in New York City this week.

'Not in the Beer-Vending Business'

According to Coindesk, Lingham clarified that his company is "definitely not in the beer-vending business." That may seem like an obvious statement for the marketing manager of a cryptocurrency tech startup; in the case of Civic, though, the explanation has merit. The beer vending machine prototype, which was created and branded in partnership with AB InBev's (BUD) Anheuser-Busch unit, is designed as a demonstration of the power and versatility of blockchain-based identity verification.

That is to say, the developers of the vending machine view the most salient feature of the prototype as its ability to determine whether or not a potential customer is of legal drinking age, not the fact that it will be dispensing beer to patrons at the Consensus 2018 conference.

Attempts to Bypass Traditional ID Verification

Civic's Titus Capilnean explained that the company viewed "proof of age [as] ... the best low-hanging fruit" when it searched for ways to help bring cryptocurrency technology to mainstream audiences. Capilnean continued by suggesting that the model Civic uses in the machine will circumvent many existing issues with traditional ID verification mechanisms, such as problems that may arise as a result of different types of IDs, the way that data is transmitted and stored, and the verification process itself.

Civic believes that the potential for ID verification extends far beyond a vending machine for alcohol. Capilnean indicated that "it could be for any kind of age-restricted product. Unmanned entrance to casinos, and then for the vending machines, we can see this going into concerts, ballgames, venues, conferences." As of now, though, there are no plans to move toward wider distribution of the vending machine.

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