China launches digital social security certificate

The most populous nation in the world now offers a digital social security certificate for citizens, offering access to health care and other government-supported services in China via smartphone.

The trial program debuted Sunday and can be used nationwide via QR code on a smartphone, according to Xinhua. Distribution of the e-certificate, however, is limited to certain cities at first, including Fuzhou and Qingdao.

China’s social security system reportedly covers 1.12 billion people, or more than 80 percent of the country’s population. In addition to health care, it is also used for elderly care and employment.

The digital social security certificate is said to boast a number of security measures, including connected artificial intelligence to confirm the user’s identity. The mobile service also uses passwords and biometric authentication built in to a user’s smartphone, such as fingerprints and facial recognition, according to China Plus.

The system, which is linked to the Alipay mobile payment system, follows the release of electronic personal ID cards in China linked to WeChat.

OWI Take: By leveraging popular and established platforms such as WeChat and Alipay, the Chinese government is taking an intelligent approach to driving adoption of digital identification methods. Rather than reinventing the wheel, China is embracing methods that already resonate with consumers. Given the sheer number of citizens who utilize social security in China, this new program could serve as a beacon for other institutions to follow as identity goes digital.