Facial recognition unicorns SenseTime and Megvii raising combined $1.6B

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Investment capital continues to pour into Chinese facial recognition firms, as Bloomberg reports that SenseTime could receive nearly $1 billion from SoftBank Vision Fund, and Megvii is raising at least $600 million from a group of investors including Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and Boyu Capital.

Anonymous sources told Bloomberg that the details of the SenseTime deal may change, as the company is still finalizing the terms with SoftBank Group Corp’s investment fund, which manages nearly $100 billion and Bloomberg says is the world’s largest technology investor.

SenseTime has raised more than $1.2 billion in two funding rounds earlier this year, one in April led by Alibaba, and one more recently led by Fidelity International, Hopu Capital, Silver Lake, and Tiger Global.

Alibaba payment services subsidiary Ant Financial participated in Megvii’s $460 million funding round in 2017, along with a Chinese state fund and Foxconn.

Megvii is expected to close its funding round within weeks, and then continue pursuing additional financing. Funds from the current round will be used to back its pitch to the retail sector, which includes using facial recognition to operate unmanned stores. Alibaba and Ant Financial are involved both as retailers and technology providers for unmanned stores.

The two Chinese AI unicorns have also applied their facial recognition technology to a range of other applications, including public security and surveillance and smartphone integration.

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