Is the Future of Finance Biometrics? Ant Financial Pays $70M to Find Out

Financial technology may be evolving at a rapid pace, but well, so is financial crime — meaning that the security of online and mobile payments is a constantly developing area and nowhere more so than biometrics.

This is obviously of interest to financial institutions across the globe, like the company behind Alipay, for example: Chinese giant Alibaba  Group Holding Ltd’s finance arm Ant Financial just paid a cool $70 mil for identity authentication startup EyeVerify.

“We’ve been working with Alipay for a while, so [Ant buying EyeVerify] was really a natural evolution,” says EyeVerify Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing Chris Barnett of the deal, which is Ant’s first U.S. investment. “No one has tested biometric solutions more thoroughly and more deeply than Alipay.”

The goal of biometric authentication technology, to put it simply, is to shift the nature of payment security from knowing a PIN/token/password authorized payment to knowing an individual human, with the accompanying individual fingerprint/voiceprint/eye pattern authorized payment. The benefits of the latter are fairly obvious; it’s a little harder to hack biology than it is code.

EyeVerify’s Eyeprint ID works by scanning the pattern of a user’s blood vessels in the eye for a biometric ID, with safeguards in place so the technology can recognize the difference between a photo or video of an individual user, and the actual user.

Eyeprint ID was integrated with Ant’s payment platform earlier this year, but after the close of this $70 million deal the startup will be a wholly owned subsidiary of Ant’s.

“[Alipay] wants to make this technology a global standard,” says Barnett. “The tech is integrated now into the Alipay wallet, and the plan is to integrate it into other Ant products over several years.”

This deal might even lead to a future U.S. Ant product, as of now Alipay and accompanying company products are available mostly in China where it is based.

To learn more about biometrics, join us at Bank Innovation Israel in Tel Aviv, November 1-3. Register here

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