In the near future, people can bring literally nothing, but their smartphones with them when going outside.

Alipay and WeChat, two of the most widely-used Apps in China, have recently implemented an electronic identity card function on their App. This means that people don’t have to keep the physical identity card with them all the time and can simply show the electronic identity cards on Alipay/WeChat App to authenticate their identities.

On November 3rd, Nanning Municipal Bureau of Public Security had signed a strategic cooperation agreement with Tencent, the mother company of WeChat. Through this agreement, Nanning citizens can use their electronic identity card on WeChat inside the Nanning city. The procedure to ‘electronize’ identity card is quite simple. Nanning citizens can go to the official account of Naning Police Service inside WeChat, enter identification information, and upload front and back photos of their physical identification cards. Using electronic identity card, users can easily manage hotel check-ins, security check in the airports, and so on.

WeChat plans to extend the implementation of this technology to other cities and hopefully, to the whole country. However, it is not without its problems.

Problem 1. Limited to local

This has not yet been authorized by the national public security system. Before receiving the approval at a national scale, the usage of this electronic card is limited to inside Naning city.

Problem 2. Security issues

Sometimes, we lose our phones and our WeChat accounts get lost or hacked. In these cases, our identity cards right inside the WeChat accounts are not safe either. This can bring severe security issues regarding the individual’s identity information.

Despite these seemingly significant problems, the idea of electronic identification card itself does not sound unplausible. Think of how credit cards came into smartphone mobile apps. Aft first, there were security concerns, even more sensitive as money is involved. However, by technological breakthroughs of ways to authenticate the individual and guarantee the security of the exchange process, concerns were gradually solved and mobile payments are now used everywhere all the time.

In the meanwhile, this news sheds light on the evolution process of WeChat, starting as a messaging App to now literally a ‘lifestyle App’ where people share memories on Moments space, make payments with their WeChat pocket, companies and organizations run their own official account to communicate with the public, brands do marketing and sales on their WeChat marketplace, and developers create new Apps, through recently released mini programs (小程序). Someday in the near future when WeChat electronic identity card gets approved by the government, WeChat would truly become a all-in-one App.

MJ explores the startup community across a variety of industries. MJ is particularly interested in O2O and Big Data. MJ is based in Shanghai.