Citigroup and J.P. Morgan & Co. are among a group of investors putting $28 million into the biometric identification specialist Sensar Inc., the company announced Thursday.
Sensar provides a system for verifying personal identities according to iris patterns. The patents are held by Iriscan of Marlton, N.J.
Details of the investment, other than the aggregate amount, were not disclosed, but Sensar called it "the world's largest combined equity investment ever in the field of personal electronic identification."
Also in the group are NCR Corp., Lehman Brothers, and Kecalp Inc., which is a Merrill Lynch & Co. investment management subsidiary.
Sensar in 1997 received an initial $3 million investment from what was then Citicorp under a preferential licensing agreement that included an equity option. Citibank's e-Citi group viewed it as a way to secure electronic commerce. NCR announced a distribution agreement in June 1997 and this year began a pilot with Nationwide Building Society in Swindon, England.
NCR senior vice president Per-Olof Loof, now also a Sensar director, said the investment is a step toward a "global standard in personal electronic identification.... We expect full product rollout to begin in 1999."