Face++, Whose Facial Recognition Tech Is Used By Alibaba, Raises $25M

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Face++, a Chinese startup that makes facial recognition technology used by Alibaba’s financial unit, has secured an additional $25 million for its series B round.

Along with capital raised in November, this brings the company’s total series B to $47 million. A Face++ representative tells TechCrunch that existing investors Qiming Venture Partners and Innovation Works returned for the round.

Based in Beijing, Face++ provides an API and SDK, along with custom cloud services, for companies that want to use its facial recognition technology. One of its most notable clients is Ant Financial, the financial subsidiary of Alibaba. Ant Financial, which makes China’s largest online payment platform Alipay, is seeking regulatory approval that would allow it to use Face++’s software to confirm the identities of people who want to set up an online bank account.

The company’s tech is also used in Alipay’s “smile to pay” service, which lets customers authenticate payments with a selfie. Face++’s public relations representative Sam Xie says traditional banks have approached it about partnerships, thanks in part to the publicity from its deals with Alibaba.

The company’s API is also integrated in a wide variety of photography and entertainment apps, ranging from Camera360, one of China’s most popular photo apps to an Ukrainian dating service called Flinch. Over 30,000 developers have used Face++’s tools, it claims.

According to the Biometrics Research Group, the global biometrics market is expected to grow to $15 billion this year from $7 billion in 2012. Two-thirds of the market will center on fingerprint identification, but the rest will include facial recognition tech like the kind developed by Face++.

The company will use its series B funding to develop a new commercial application for its technology. Xie declined to go into specifics, but said the product’s launch is planned for this year.