Alipay trials digital replacement of China’s ubiquitous ID cards

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A new system of official digital ID has been integrated with Alipay for making ID-validated purchases such as train tickets and for checking into hotels in test areas in eastern China.

The “Resident ID Online Verification Certificate” (our translation: “居民身份证网上功能凭证”) uses the “Internet+ Trusted Identity Authentication Platform”, also known as CTID, (our translation: “互联网+可信身份认证平台”), according to Xinhua (in Chinese). The system has been developed by the Ministry for Public Security’s First Research Institute. CTID is the system behind the trials of digital ID within WeChat late last year.

The Alipay integration is now being trialed in Hangzhou and Quzhou in Zhejiang, plus Fuzhou. Registered users in the three cities can make transactions that are fully validated from within Alipay itself, without having to separately supply the details of or show their standard ID card. These include coach and train tickets as well as checking into hotels. The Alipay ID is also valid in local authority service halls.

Alipay digital ID Ruiwo Smart hotel
A user checks into the Ruiwo Smart Hotel in Hangzhou just with Alipay. (Image credit: Xinhua)

According to the website of the First Research Institute, the “National Engineering Laboratory for Multidimensional Identification and Trustworthy Authentication Technologies” was approved by the powerful National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) in November 2016 and is a collaboration with Tsinghua University and the People’s Bank of China, the country’s central bank.

The laboratory is researching the integration of identification methods, equipment, biometrics, and technical support as well as finding any weaknesses in the country’s identity networks.