SenseTime joins $173 million investment for Terminus

China's leading facial recognition startup builds its corporate network of next-generation technologies as it buys a stake in Beijing-based IoT developer.

Beijing-based Internet of Things (IoT) startup Terminus Technologies has raised Rmb1.2 billion ($172.5 million) in its first round of Series B funding, the company announced on Friday.

Led by existing investors China Everbright and IDG Capital, they were joined in this round by leading Beiijing-headquartered artificial intelligence company SenseTime. The Chinese unicorn develops facial and image recognition technology, which is used for bank verification and security services.

Founded in 2015 with help from China Everbright, Terminus provides IoT systems for governments and corporations. These include municipal, building and public safety management systems.

In July last year, the company completed its Series A financing with more than $72 million investment, also from China Everbright and IDC Capital along with CITIC Private Equity. Proceeds were then used to develop its IoT system in different Chinese cities, including Beijing, Shanghai and second-tier cities like Chongqing and Wuhan.

According to its website, Terminus provides community and commercial building management and tracking systems. It installs sensors which track user behavior and which collect data for future analysis. It also produces wearable devices and smart lockers for individual consumers.

IoT has emerged as the latest focus for international technology, and China wants to embrace this trend. A 5G network is the backbone for IoT development, and China boasts ten times the number of 5G sites per person than the US, outspending it by $24 billion.

According to a Deloitte report published in August this year, China has built 350,000 wireless 5G sites while US can claim fewer than 30,000.

5G sites can transmit data more than 10 times faster than current 4G networks, something which offers considerable opportunities for IoT development. It is something that China has embraced wholeheartedly. According to a US government report published this month, the Chinese IoT market passed $154 billion in value last year and is expected to to hit $264 billion by 2020. 

It can be seen at a national level. Countries are all competing on smart city development, as they try to be the leader in the sector. According to another Deloitte report, Asian and European countries have had the greatest increase in investment - annual growth of 32% and 26% respectively. China ranked first, with 500 smart cities on developing by February 2018 thanks to huge support from the government. 

This perhaps explains why the fundraising process for Terminus has been so straightforward. With SenseTime in its corner, the two companies could advance the technology of image and facial recognition. That is at the core of the smart city development: more data from individuals and more supervision of the city.


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