China’s home-sharing platform Xiaozhu invests in smart home development

China’s home-sharing platform Xiaozhu invests in smart home development
Xiaozhu, an Airbnb-like platform in China, raised US$300 million in its latest round of financing, which the company plans to invest in smart home technology development.
 
The Chinese company began to add houses with facial recognition-enabled smart locks to its listing back in 2017. Guests take pictures with the app when they confirm bookings, and upon arriving at the property, their faces serve as the key to unlock the door, without using a password or a physical key.
 
The smart lock system was developed with Ant Financial, a fintech company affiliated with the Chinese Alibaba Group.

Xiaozhu said the new funding will be used for global network and smart home IoT system investment. “Through building a smarter service chain, Xiaozhu hopes to provide shared home users with a safer, more reliable, and convenient living environment globally,” said Chen Chi, CEO of Xiaozhu, in a statement.
 
The smart lock system with facial recognition has been used in about 40 cities in China. The company is looking to install more connected devices in its listed homes for a smoother stay experience for both the host and the guest.
 
Facial recognition is very popular in China. It is applied in suspect identification in law enforcement, at payment stations in a fast food restaurant, among others.
 
The new round of funding was led by Advantech Capital and Yunfeng Capital, a venture capital firm backed by Alibaba founder and CEO Jack Ma. The latter also invested US$120 million in another round of funding in November 2017.
 
Xiaozhu, founded in 2012, claims to have more than 500,000 listings in more than 650 destinations around the world.
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