China’s Ant Group plans sale of U.S.-based EyeVerify

A sign of Ant Group is seen during the World Internet Conference (WIC) in Wuzhen, Zhejiang province, China

China’s Ant Group Co Ltd is planning to sell U.S.-based biometric security firm EyeVerify amid growing tensions between Beijing and Washington over China’s technology companies and tightening scrutiny over U.S. data, the Financial Times reported on Tuesday.

Ant, the fintech affiliate of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, is in talks with a number of potential buyers in the United States, the FT report said, citing sources.

The company planned to secure a sale in the first half of this year, the FT added.

Ant declined to comment. EyeVerify did not immediately respond to request for comment.

EyeVerify, based in Kansas City, Missouri, designs eye verification technology for mobile devices which is used by U.S. banks including Wells Fargo.

Ant bought EyeVerify for $100 million in 2016, a purchase which was approved by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), the panel that scrutinises deals for potential national security risks.

A senior Ant executive told the FT that the company had not collected data from EyeVerify’s eyeball scans.

The executive said such data did not leave the smartphones that performed the scans, the FT reported.

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