Alibaba Eyes U.S. Biometric Authentication Startup

Alibaba this week snapped up a Kansas City, Mo.-based biometric authentication technology provider that might soon have consumers verifying mobile transactions with a scan of their eye. Ant Financial, the Alibaba-affiliated financial services and payments company that operates online payment giant Alipay, on Tuesday announced it has acquired EyeVerify in a deal that is worth anywhere from $70 to $100 million, according to various reports. As the use of easily hacked username/password combinations to identify users comes into increasing question, biometric authentication methods are gaining prominence. EyeVerify scans a user’s eye for the pattern of blood vessels as unique to each person as their fingerprint. The company claims the patented technology is 99.99 percent accurate.

“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.”

Ant Financial has been licensing the company’s Eyeprint ID product for use as an authentication method by Alipay since earlier this year. The acquisition will enable tighter integration with Alipay and other Ant Financial products, like peer-to-peer lending.