WeChat will be China's official electronic ID from Jan 2018

Making physical identity cards and wallets a thing of the past.

Kayla Wong | December 28, 2017, 01:49 PM

Wallets could become a thing of the past in China.

Starting next year, the Chinese will no longer have to worry about leaving their identity cards at home, as long as they're registered on WeChat.

A pilot WeChat ID programme that creates a virtual ID card, which serves the same purpose as the traditional state-issued ID cards, was launched in Guangzhou's Nansha District on Dec. 25.

According to South China Morning Post, the programme was co-developed by the research institute of the Ministry of Public Security and Chinese tech giant Tencent's WeChat team, and supported by various banks and other government departments.

The programme is expected to launch across the country from Jan 2018.

Making lives safer and more convenient

The electronic identity card will function the same as a traditional identity card issued by the state.

Verified users will be able to do anything that requires an identity card just by scanning their faces with their phones, such as checking in at hotels and applying for government services.

It is also expected to help deter online identity theft, as facial recognition technology is used to verify applicants before their virtual ID cards get authorised.

China's "App For Everything"

With the project, WeChat is set to become even more indispensable in the daily lives of many Chinese consumers.

It has been called China's "App For Everything" because of its numerous functions, and was lauded as one of the world's most powerful apps.

Since it's first release in 2011 by Tencent as a mobile messaging service, the app has now evolved into the country's largest social network, as well as a popular online platform for payments and money transfers.

However, tightening links between Tencent - WeChat and the Chinese Communist party have given rise to privacy concerns. WeChat censors politically sensitive messages and social-media posts and shares the identity of users with police when instructed.


Used by the Beijing court

A day after the pilot programme was launched, WeChat has already been adopted by Beijing Court as a means for people to file lawsuits electronically.

According to a report by the official Xinhua news agency, parties in a legal case can submit documents, verify their identification and pay legal fees through the WeChat prosecution service platform operated by Beijing Haitian court.

The new service is meant to save time for the parties when resubmitting materials and queuing up in banks to make payments.

Top image via Youtube