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China to introduce digital ID cards nationwide

China to introduce digital ID cards nationwide

China’s Prime Minister Li Keqiang has said the country will in the course of this year introduce the digital ID based on the national ID card in order to enable citizens easily access important services online, reports SCMP.

Speaking recently during a National People’s Congress event, the premier said this novelty will be particularly important especially for the millions of Chinese citizens who live away from their home province.

Per the report, the digital version of the ID card — which can be used by just a simple scan of a code on one’s mobile phone — was first trialed in 2018 with some banks and internet companies such as Tencent and Alibaba Group where customers used face biometrics to authenticate their IDs for activities such as hotel registration, banking and delivery services, as well as ticketing, writes SCMP.

The digital ID cards are now currently accepted in at least 15 major cities in the country, but smaller cities are said to be still lukewarm to adopt.

SCMP quotes the premier as saying of the digital ID card project: “Some are elderly people living away from their hometown with their children in the other cities, some are there for jobs and education. They have to run back and forth to get things done. So getting things done interprovincially has become a new constant demand for the Chinese people.”

He adds: “One policy from the government this year is to make ID cards electronic, so that relevant information can be accessed by a simple scan of the code on the cellphone.”

Some Chinese have welcomed the announcement by the premier to expand the digital ID scheme nationwide, but a lawyer told SCMP the government will have to revise its resident ID card regulation to accommodate the digital ID novelty.

Canadian province mulls optional digital ID

In a related development, the government of the Canadian province of Saskatchewan is planning to provide digital IDs to residents on an optional basis to enable them enjoy more public services.

CTV News Regina reports that the government is currently considering bids from interested companies to help set up the digital ID system. Bluink Ltd is cited as potentially among those companies.

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