The government of Guangzhou, capital of the southern coastal province of Guangdong, started on Monday a pilot programme that creates a virtual ID card, 

The card serves the same purpose as the traditional state-issued ID cards, through the WeChat accounts of registered users in the city’s Nansha district, according to a report by state news agency Xinhua.

The programme’s success would mark one of the most significant milestones for WeChat after it was initially rolled out by Tencent as a mobile messaging service in 2011, and then evolved into the country’s largest social network, as well as a popular online platform for payments and money transfers.

It is said that the trial will soon cover the entire province and further expand across the country from January next year

Shenzhen-based Tencent has estimated that WeChat, marketed as Weixin on the mainland, recorded 980 million monthly active users in the quarter ended September 30.

The project is expected to help deter online identity theft, as facial recognition technology is used to verify applicants before their virtual ID cards get authorised.

Those verified will be able to use their WeChat ID to register in hotels and apply for government services without the need of bringing their physical ID cards.

The WeChat ID pilot programme in Guangzhou will be extended to The whole of Guangdong province and further across China from January next year.

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