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WeChat has rolled out a ‘Mini Programs’ system in its bid to become an omni-app. Pic: Chonlachai/Shutterstock

WeChat introduces identity card feature to become ultimate ‘one-stop-shop’ app

IN its quest to become the only app people will ever need, WeChat has recently launched an electronic identity card feature in collaboration with Alipay, an online payment platform that is also one of the most widely-used apps in China.

Having an electronic identity card will eliminate the need to carry a physical card around wherever you go. With this in place, WeChat could become the model ‘one-stop-shop’ app as it already does just about everything – apart from messaging and calls, users can also make transactions, book a taxi, order food, arrange laundry pickup, use an online concierge service, and even manage a personal wealth fund all through the app.

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The new feature is currently being tested in Nanning city. The Nanning Municipal Bureau of Public Security signed a strategic cooperation agreement with Tencent, WeChat’s operator, on November 3. This means citizens within Nanning city can use their electronic identity card on WeChat.

According to TechNode, WeChat users in Nanning simply have to go to the Nanning Police Service’s WeChat account to enter their personal information and upload front and back photos of the physical cards.

Tencent said in an article on QQ, its instant messaging software service, that the system will utilize facial recognition technology to ensure security of the identity cards, reported Caixin Online.

Identity cards are required to be carried around by Chinese nationals, and are necessary for services such as opening bank accounts, buying transportation tickets, and booking hotel stays.

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There are, of course, plans to roll out the feature to other cities, and eventually throughout the country. However, security risks could hinder WeChat’s grand scheme, and it has yet to be approved by the national public security system.

WeChat has over 800 million users, and was valued at US$83.6 billion last year by HSBC, making it one of the most impressive apps around. This year, it tapped into the business community with the launch of workplace feature, WeChat Enterprise – which in August, had over 20 million users registered.