Chinese pet health insurance to verify animals via noseprint recognition tech before processing claims

A woman with her pet dog, both wearing face mask - Getty Images Contributor
A woman with her pet dog, both wearing face mask – Getty Images Contributor

Noseprint recognition technology that identifies pets via the sticky, twitchy grooves on their black and pink noses – as unique as human fingerprints – will be used by a new pet health insurance program in China to verify animals before processing claims.

The technology collates photos of a dog or cat’s nose from multiple angles, much like how smartphones register fingerprints for biometric identification by collecting repeated finger scans.

Each furry client’s noseprint will then be kept on file by the pet insurance program, offered by Chinese tech giant Alibaba. Annual coverage costs £20 to £80, and will protect against almost all pet diseases and accidental injuries for dogs and cats between three months and 10 years old, according to state media. 

Noseprint recognition first rolled out in China last year as a way to find lost pets, and could also be used in various government programs cracking down on pet owners whose furballs break the rules, such as subverting the ban against playing in public water fountains, or failing to pick up the poop.

A number of Chinese cities in recent years have tried to encourage more responsible pet ownership with scoring systems, fining people for infractions with authorities going so far as to confiscate dogs for repeat offenders. 

Local authorities are also increasingly requiring pets to be registered and identified via QR codes printed on their identification tags. 

Pet ownership has boomed in China as personal wealth mushroomed along with the nation’s economy, climbing up the ladder to become the world’s largest. Urban residents spent an estimated £23 billion pampering their pets last year. 

A cottage industry has grown rapidly in China to cater to growing demand, including premium food options, shops hawking the latest in animal fashions, and even spas offering special massages and blowout packages for the furballs. 

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