EyeVerify, a Kansas City-based company that makes mobile authentication technology, has been acquired by Ant Financial, the payments affiliate of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba.
The companies did not disclose terms of terms of the deal in a release announcing the acquisition, and EyeVerify could not immediately be reached for comment. Bloomberg, citing an anonymous person familiar with the matter, reported Ant Financial is paying about $70 million for EyeVerify. Startland News, citing an unnamed local source familiar with the deal, reported the purchase price was more than $100 million.
EyeVerify will operate as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Ant Financial and continue to make its home in Kansas City, the company said in the release.
EyeVerify makes Eyeprint ID, technology that allows a smartphone photo of an eyeball to be used as a unique identifier for secure access. The technology recognizes patterns of veins and other features in and around the eye that are unique to each person.
EyeVerify and Ant Financial entered into a licensing agreement earlier this year, allowing the Chinese company to integrate Eyeprint ID into its payment authentication platform. Today’s deal means the technology will be made available in more Ant Financial products, EyeVerify said.
Several Android device manufacturers and more than a dozen financial institutions have used EyeVerify’s technology, according to the company.
EyeVerify was founded in 2012 by Toby Rush, who commercialized technology developed by Reza Derakhshani, a professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and Arun Ross, a professor at the University of West Virginia.
Rush reflected on that history in post on the company’s blog.
“We started less than 5 years ago in a lab at a local university,” Rush wrote. “Today, we pause to celebrate a significant milestone in our journey. That journey is still in its infancy. Our vision extends for decades to come.”