Ant Financial, the financial affiliate of e-commerce giant Alibaba, has acquired U.S mobile eye verification startup EyeVerify, Inc., according to an announcement published on Tuesday from the latter.
The companies did not disclose the cost of the acquisition, though sources who spoke to Bloomberg and Fortune value the deal at $70 million USD and $100 million USD, respectively.
The acquisition wasn’t surprising given the history between the two companies. Ant Financial has been using EyeVerify’s authentication technologies for months under a licensing agreement. According to EyeVerify’s press release, the startup’s technology was previously integrated into Ant Fianncial’s payment authentication platform. The tie-up will allow EyeVerify’s technology to be more widely used in Ant Financial’s products.
Founded in 2012 by a team of computer scientists and engineers, EyeVerify is the developer of “EyePrint ID”, a patent technology that verifies the user’s identity by identifying blood vessel patterns in their eye. By reading these vein patterns in selfies, the technology transforms the data into a fifty character password. The company claims that its tool is 99.99% accurate.
EyeVerify currently has 17 U.S. patents issued and 15 more patents pending to continue its expansion, according to the company.
The startup received a $6 million USD Series A round in 2014. Chinese software company Qihoo 360 and Samsung Electronics were also participating investors.
“The acquisition of EyeVerify is a critical part of our effort to make bold, yet thoughtful moves to continually enhance user trust, safety, and experience,” said Jason Lu, vice president of fraud risk management at Ant Financial. “It is an important extension of our efforts to accelerate the global adoption of secure mobile payments and allows us to improve our overall risk management.”
Despite all the innovations around mobile wallets, payment security is still a huge concern for services providers and individual users alike. In recent years, biometric verification technologies have been widely applied from fingerprint, voice, facial, handwriting, and now eye-pattern recognition technology.