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Face-recognition startup Megvii said to raise US$100m

[HONG KONG] Megvii Inc, a Chinese developer of facial-recognition technology, has raised at least $100 million from investors including Foxconn Technology Group and CCB International Holdings Ltd, according to people with direct knowledge of the matter.

The owner of Face++ is still in talks with other investors for more funding, the people said, asking not to be named because the matter is private. Megvii confirmed it's raising funds while declining to comment on the specific amount. It plans to work with investors to improve facial recognition technology, especially in the financial industry, smart cities and robotics, the company said in an e-mailed statement.

Megvii provides face-scanning systems to Ant Financial, which operates the dominant payments service on Alibaba Group Holding Ltd's online shopping platforms. The e-commerce operator and internet companies from Facebook Inc to Google Inc and Baidu Inc are embracing biometric technologies and artificial intelligence to improve security and smooth e-commerce.

Beijing-based Megvii also has attracted funding from Qiming Venture Partners and Sinovation Ventures, the incubator founded by Google's former China head. The company is working with Ant Financial on a system allowing users to set up bank accounts online through facial scans, provided it receives regulatory approval.

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Investors in the latest round include those that participated in previous funding, the people said.

Zhejiang Ant Small & Micro Financial Services Group, the formal name for Ant Financial, declined to comment. CCB International declined to comment. Foxconn did not respond to e-mails seeking comment.

Megvii's application uses facial scans held in a Ministry of Public Security database drawn from legal identification files on about 1.3 billion Chinese. Face++ doesn't compromise privacy because neither a user nor company can see the police data, according to Megvii.