Legally valid personal ID’s now available on WeChat

12 Feb 2018

Nansha (南沙) is in the southern district of Guangzhou, which sits on the pearl river delta. It’s more a less unknown outside China but has a strong reputation for its international trade industries.

Whilst it may not be a destination like Shanghai or Beijing for most westerners, its citizens will be the first to experience one of the most important digital innovations of the 21st century. In December 2017, a pilot project was launched by Tencent and the Nansha authorities which enabled Nansha’s citizens to connect their ID to WeChat, in order to have a legally recognized digital version of it with them all the time. Tencent and the Chinese government are planning to extend the project to national level in Q1 of 2018.

This will make life much easier for Chinese citizens, who regularly have to use their ID cards for simple activities, like buying train or flight tickets to move from one region of China to another. With a simple facial scan on WeChat, it will be possible to present a “light version” of the ID. To have an official copy, users will have to have their IDs officially scanned inside WeChat. According to “Xinhua” (new China), within 24 hours of the project launch, over 30,000 people had requested the service.

Having a legally valid digital version of one’s ID will also help drive online functionality and consumption. The project sits in line with the digitalization principles promoted by the Chinese government. Whilst, online identity fraud is still a problem in China, government and industry will hope that this project makes several steps towards eradicating it. The security ministry and the local police hope the integration of users ID’s on WeChat will disincentive cybercrime as the cross referencing of identification data and social media data make life harder for criminals.