China AI firm Yitu opens Singapore office, plans to hire 50-60 researchers

SINGAPORE - Chinese artificial intelligence company Yitu Technology plans to hire 50 to 60 researchers in Singapore as it opens its first international office in Singapore.

"We see Singapore as a springboard to enter more markets in this region - for example, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia," Lance Wang, Yitu's general manager of South-east Asia, Hong Kong and Macau, said on Tuesday (Jan 23) at the opening of the Singapore office in Asia Square.

The firm's research and development centre will be set up later, and Yitu's target is for 90 per cent of the staff there to be local hires.

At Tuesday's opening, the firm demonstrated technologies such as an employee-tracking system and an ATM that relies on facial recognition instead of bank cards. "Imagine if you're on the street and you want to buy something but you've forgotten your wallet. You just use your face and enter the password - it's very convenient," said Mr Wang.

One of Yitu's clients, China Merchants Bank, has already rolled out some 2,000 such ATMs in China.

Yitu's facial recognition technology has won international competitions and is used by 170 municipal and provincial security departments in China. The firm's other AI solutions include security for large-scale public events, medical diagnosis, vehicle recognition and traffic management.

Changi Airport Group and Certis Cisco are among Yitu's first Singapore clients. The firm is also in talks with potential clients here in financial services, healthcare and other industries, as well as the public sector.

Founded in 2012, Yitu received Series C funding of US$55 million in May 2017 from Hillhouse Capital Group and other investors. Previous fund-raising rounds drew investors such as Yunfeng Capital and Sequoia Capital.