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Nose prints know pets' correct identity

By HE QI in Shanghai | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2020-08-29 07:23
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Snapshots show use of app that applies pet nose print recognition technology to scan a dog's nose. CHINA DAILY

Just as people use fingerprints to verify identities, the technology of identifying pets by nose prints has also gained recognition and is being adopted by some insurance companies that offer high-end pet insurance.

Ping An Insurance said last weekend that the technology will be used for the first time for its high-end pet insurance in China. The announcement was made last weekend during Pet Fair Asia 2020 in Shanghai.

Pet nose print recognition technology has a 98 percent recognition success rate, and that rate is expected to grow to 99.9 percent, according to ChongAiWangGuo, a digital pet information management company that has refined the technology with the Suzhou branch of the Shenzhen Institutes of Advanced Technology under the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

"Just like a human's fingerprint, a pet's nose print is unique and never changes," said Yang Ran, CEO of ChongAiWangGuo.

"Through identification with a pet nose print, we can establish a file for the insured pet so as to accurately confirm the pet's identity when settling the claim," he said.

Compared with the traditional paper dog identification card, which typically relies on chip implantation to determine the pet's identity, nose print recognition technology reduces the risk of injury to insured pets, Yang added.

However, because it is difficult to collect a cat's nose print, only dogs' nose prints are used for insurance purposes, he said.

There are about 100 million pets in China, and in 2019, spending on domestic pets reached 202.4 billion yuan ($29.5 billion), a year-on-year increase of 18.5 percent, according to the 2019 Chinese Pet Industry White Paper Consumer Report.

With challenges in identifying pets and difficulties with claims settlements, pet insurance has seen little growth in the past decade in China, which reported a coverage rate of 1 percent, far lower than the 25 percent in the United Kingdom and 7 percent in Japan, the report said.

That may start to change with the introduction of pet nose print recognition technology. According to Yang, more than 15,000 pet dogs have been insured using the technology since its introduction in July.

Yang said he expects more uses for the technology, such as official registration of dogs, searching for and adopting pets and pet store management.

Zhang Xuanqi, a representative for Ping An's pet insurance, said the company has reached agreements with nearly 60 pet hospitals in Shanghai and Chengdu, Sichuan province. All the cooperating hospitals can log a pet's identity, use it for medical records and look up records using nose print recognition.

"Just like people's medical insurance, we pay for the medical expenses of insured pets, and the reason we are willing to offer such insurance is that we can determine the identity of the pet through the accurate identification using nose prints," Zhang said.

Zhang said his company's insurance using nose print identification is to become available to the public in mid-September.

Ma Qunshan, an executive with the Chongzhen app-a short video platform focusing on pet owners' social activities-said the introduction of nose print recognition technology is revolutionary for the insurance industry.

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