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"Scan-WeChat-to-cross-border" is coming
Published on: 2018-06-11
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050Tencent Holdings is working with China's authorities for its popular WeChat app to replace travel documents on border crossings between Hong Kong and China mainland, the technology giant said on Wednesday.

Tencent demonstrated its proposed "Scan-WeChat-to-cross-border" procedure at the border checkpoint, which could make the mobile app even more powerful and eventually render it unnecessary for Chinese citizens to carry travel documents.

051The messenger-to-payment WeChat app now has more than 1 billion users, most of them in mainland China.

Tencent said it was working with Chinese authorities to roll out the biometric data-based E-card scheme for mainland and Hong Kong citizens to link identity documents to their WeChat app and cross the border with simple code and face scans.

In a statement, the firm said the system was the latest technology for digital identity solutions approved by China's Ministry of Public Security, and encrypted algorithms would prevent any leaks or tampering.

055With the E-card scheme, it added, Tencent hoped residents of China's "Greater Bay Area", encompassing Hong Kong, Macau and southern Guangdong province, would be the first to experience "one mobile, seamless travel" before it is rolled out elsewhere.

But Tencent did not say how far its talks with Chinese authorities had progressed, nor give a timeline.

052It runs a pilot scheme for Guangdong residents to integrate official documents such as national identity cards, driving licenses and travel documents with WeChat accounts, allowing 142 government tasks to be performed in the app, from paying traffic fines to setting up appointments for marriages and divorces.

Jim Lai, a Tencent vice president, said the push was partly spurred by nationally sanctioned plans to further integrate Hong Kong and Macau with southern China in the Greater Bay Area.

053There was no immediate response from Hong Kong's Security Bureau and Immigration Department on whether it might consider such a system or if the government had privacy concerns.

The border between Hong Kong and China mainland is one of the world's busiest, with more than 230 million travelers crossing land checkpoints in 2016, government data shows.

054People now cross the border with passports and chip-embedded travel cards swiped through fingerprint and facial scans to pass through unmanned electric channels.

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