China has started a new pilot programme to move citizens’ ID cards onto the mobile phone so that they can be more easily accessed by their holders. The first virtual national identity card was issued at an event which took place on Monday. The pilot is taking place in Guangzhou, and aims to see all citizens given the option to carry a virtual ID card.
The initiative is sponsored by more than ten companies including the tech giant, Tencent. The IDs are available in two forms, the first being a mini app on Tencent’s WeChat messenger, and the other being a more secure version that involves scanning a QR code at the local public security bureau. The WeChat mini app version is for informal occasions such as showing ID at bars while the secure version is for transactions, train ticket purchases, business licenses, and for other sensitive purposes.
According to CGTN, the pilot programme wasn’t without its hiccups. A Guangzhou resident said:
“It [said] my face was not recognised. Now I’m not sure if my ID card is actually mine or not.”
Users jumping on board the new platform will only need to scan their face to prove their identity. If a person’s phone is lost they can easily block access to the ID by resetting their eight-digit pin.