Chinese home-sharing company to trial facial recognition smart locks for rentals in Chengdu

Xiaozhu, a company providing similar services to Airbnb for the Chinese market, is rolling out smart locks with facial recognition for a pilot in Chengdu, South China Morning Post reports.

By the end of the year, Xiaozhu plans to have facial recognition available for check-in in 80 percent of listed properties in Chengdu. The company’s home-sharing site is one of China’s largest, and Chengdu is its second-largest market. A broader plan to increase the security of the service also includes installing smoke detectors, burglar alarms, and creating a blacklist for tenants who violate policies.

The company says the changes are being made to address the concerns of all parties, and the Chinese government is moving towards tighter regulation of the home-sharing market. China’s State Information Center says 78 million hosts and guests used home-sharing services in the country in 2017, making the market worth 14.5 billion yuan (US$2.1 billion), and forecasts the market will more than triple by 2020.

The security system Xiaozhu will use includes technology provided by Alibaba Group.

Property companies like Xiaozhu make up a significant portion of the smart lock market in China, but China’s State Administration of Market Regulation warned recently that they can have hidden dangers, especially if they can be unlocked with a smart card.

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