Kansas City-based EyeVerify Inc., creator of the Eyeprint ID technology used to verify identity by reading blood vessel patterns in the whites of the eye, has been sold.
Ant Financial Services Group, a major online and mobile financial services provider that operates Alipay, has acquired the company for an undisclosed sum, although Bloomberg valued the sale at $70 million and other sources reported $100 million.
Co-founded by a team of computer science and engineering inventors at the University of Missouri-Kansas City led by Reza Derakhshani, the company has grown under the entrepreneurial leadership of CEO Toby Rush.
Rush said there are no plans to move the company headquarters from its current offices at 1712 Main, where about 40 employees have built a global client list for the patented identity technology.
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“But we plan to triple or quadruple our size,” Rush said Tuesday morning. “It’s not just about money flowing into our investors, it’s about being a community resource, engaging with universities.”
Rush said financial beneficiaries of the sale include investors from Mid America Angels, Flyover Capital, Nebraska Angels, as well as the co-founders and employee stakeholders in the firm.
“In some ways, there will be no immediate effect,” said Rush, who will continue as CEO of the new wholly owned subsidiary of Ant Financial. “We’ll come into the same office tomorrow. But we’ll benefit from a common vision and platform to go global.”
Rush said there are lots of expansion plans in terms of product and markets. Goals include hiring “hardcore engineers and software developers — smart ones, really smart ones.”
Jason Lu, vice president of fraud risk management at Ant Financial, said acquisition of EyeVerify will accelerate the company’s “global adoption of secure mobile payments” and allow the company “to improve our overall risk management.”
Rush said EyeVerify’s biometric platform is used by more than three dozen banks and technology services, including Wells Fargo.
The EyeVerify technology bypasses the need for passwords by allowing users to take “selfies” with their smartphones. The distinct patterns of blood vessels in the eyeball are unique to each individual, much like fingerprints.
The technology scrambles and encrypts the EyeVerify image data so that it can’t be stolen and never leaves the user’s device.
EyeVerify has 17 U.S. patents issued and 15 pending.