China has been hastening their real-name registration process for online payments in recent months, and the internet giants behind the country’s biggest payment services are scrambling to get their customers registered before the lock out.

China’s central bank released a regulation last December that divides customers into three types according to their online transaction amounts. Corresponding user authentication requirements are provided for different client types.

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The new regulation is going to take effect in July 1 this year, which means that the online payment platforms only have less than four months to upgrade their systems.

Alipay, the country’s most popular service backed by Alibaba, posted a public Weibo last week, asking customers to complete their real-name registration as soon as possible. Ant Financial, the company behind Alipay, confirmed that customers who failed to complete the process won’t be able to use Alipay services after July 1.

‘Type I’ accounts mainly process small transactions with lower requirements for user identity authentication. Type II and Type III demand at least three and five online authentication channels respectively to prevent illegal transactions like online financial fraud, illegal fundraising and money-laundering.

Alipay has registered more than 800 million users, of which only 300 million are estimated to have registered with their real name, according to data released by the company.

Another leader in China’s mobile payment scene WeChat Payment also posted publicly last week, requesting customers to upgrade their profile with more details before July 1. Although the company didn’t say directly whether they will stop the services if customers failed to upgrade, it is highly possible that customers won’t be able to use WeChat Payment if they do not verify before July 1.

A report from the Payment & Clearing Association of China shows that 945 million total payment accounts have completed real-name registration process as of 2015, accounting for only 43.07% of the total.

In 2012 Beijing has released a draft of proposed legislation that would require providers of payment systems to keep the user name, gender, address, contact means and state ID number of all their users on file.

According to an analyst from the Payment & Clearing Association there are three factors driving the real-name registration push: temporary accounts, for example WeChat users can send red envelops without registering real names that are bound their bank cards, existing accounts that become sleeper bank accounts and accounts held by coming-of-age citizens.

image credit: ShutterStock

Emma Lee (Li Xin) was TechNode's e-commerce and new retail reporter until June 2022, when she moved to Sixth Tone to cover technology and consumption. Get in touch with her via or Twitter.

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