WeChat, the popular mobile application from Tencent Holdings, is now becoming more indispensable in the daily lives of Chinese consumers under a project that turns it into an official electronic personal identification system.
The government of Guangzhou, capital of the southern coastal province of Guangdong started a pilot programme that creates a virtual ID card, which serves the same purpose as the traditional state-issued ID cards, through the WeChat accounts of registered users in the city’s Nansha district.This project will try to prevent online identity thefts. The new WeChat ID card project is supported by the Ministry of Public Security’s Research Institute and other government bodies in cooperation with Tencent’s WeChat team.
It is said that trial will soon cover the entire province and further expand across the country from January next year. That will enable Chinese citizens to leave their identity cards at home and use their WeChat ID card for online and offline government services, hotel registration, delivery services, ticketing and other scenarios that require real name authentication.
Guangzhou’s Intermediate People’s Court has already launched its mini app on WeChat’s platform (in Chinese) to help citizens access relevant case information, filings and other information. The app will automatically verify users’ information and the authenticity of their ID cards through its own AI system.
Investor are being fairly optimistic about Tencent’s ability to monetise data from WeChat’s 902m average daily logged-in users and that optimism helped the company’s stock price more than double since the start of 2017.
“Tencent’s crisis is that its profit model is overly reliant on internet gaming,” said Zhang Yi, chief executive of iiMedia Research, a technology consultancy. “Expectations for Tencent are very high, but right now its actual value isn’t as high as its stock price suggests.”
WeChat, officially launched in 2011 and known as weixin in mainland China, has evolved into the country’s largest social network with 980 million monthly active users in the quarter ended September 30, according to Shenzhen-based Tencent.