WeChat, social media mobile application developed by Tencent Holdings, is set to add a significant feature to its already plentiful list of functions. More specifically, Weixin (Chinese name for the app) will become an official personal identification system, Xinhua reported on Monday.
A pilot project has launched in Guangzhou, capital of the province of Guangdong, which will allow for creation of a virtual ID card through a WeChat account. The identification will serve the same purpose as the state-issued ID card. The programme was developed through a joint venture of Tencent’s WeChat team and the research institute of the Ministry of Public Security. Once successful, the project aims to spread across the province and, eventually, the entire country.
In the first 24 hours after the launch of the project, 30,000 registered WeChat users applied for the ID
It was reported that in the first 24 hours after the launch of the project, 30,000 registered WeChat users applied for the ID. People using this form of identification will have access to both offline and online governmental services, but the most important feature is reflected in the facial recognition technology which will, developers hope, prevent identity theft. The new form of ID will allow users to enjoy all services which require authentication, such as hotel registration and ticket purchasing.
WeChat has been dubbed China’s “app for everything” due to numerous functions and platforms. Although it started as a messaging system, Tencent’s app soon expand its capabilities to payments and money transfer, ride-hailing, cryptocurrency transfers and more. As of September 2017, the app has over 980 million monthly active users, according to the company.