In brief

  • SenseTime is the world's highest valued artificial intelligence startup.
  • It is now working with China's digital currency team.
  • Details are slim but it will be focused on controlling risk.

Sensetime, the world’s highest-valued artificial intelligence (AI) startup, will be making its cutting-edge technology available to the team building China’s imminent digital currency. On Monday, the company announced it had signed a deal with China’s Digital Currency Research Institute, which is building China’s Digital Currency Electronic Payment (DC/EP).

According to the South China Morning Post, the startup will focus on improving “risk control and operational capabilities” in China’s financial sector. Hong Kong-based Sensetime is known for its facial recognition technology, used by microblogging website Weibo, and its image recognition technology, used by technology giant Huawei.

SenseTime offers AI technology
SenseTime is known for its facial recognition technology. Image: Shutterstock.

China’s digital currency is currently being trialed in a public beta across four pilot regions, Shenzhen, Xiongan, Chengdu, and Suzhou. It is reportedly set to go live in May, and will be used to pay travel allowances to state employees


As Decrypt has reported, the DC/EP will be closely integrated with China’s financial system. The digital yuan will be controlled by China's central bank but issued through a selection of commercial banks. It will be available to Chinese citizens through popular financial apps, such as Alibaba’s Alipay and Tencent’s WeChat. Alibaba also backs Sensetime.

According to a report by financial services company Huatai Securities, there will be three centers responsible for managing the data involved with the digital currency. One center will be managing the use of the currency, another the registration of each individual who wants to use the currency and a third will analyze the financial data created by the system.

Perhaps a fourth will be needed to make sure the AI doesn’t get out of control.

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