Guangdong residents show their newly applied e-ID cards to media.
Residents of Guangdong province are taking the lead in a pilot project to link their identity cards to a mobile social media app through facial recognition. The program will be rolled out nationwide early next year.
Since the first e-ID card was issued on Monday, nearly 110,000 residents in Guangdong have applied for it, said Yan Dong, an official at the Public Security Bureau of Nansha district in Guangzhou, the provincial capital.
Under the program, citizens can identify themselves through the country's most widespread messaging app, WeChat. People will be able to leave their identity cards at home and use their e-ID card.
The e-ID card, which serves the same purpose as the traditional State-issued ID card, can be used for services that require real name authentication, such as online and offline government services, hotel registration, train ticket reservations and opening bank accounts.
The card can be obtained in two ways. A limited-function version, suitable for cases in which citizens just need to prove the holder's identity, can be gotten through online registration and face scanning on a WeChat app.
The full-function version is used when stricter authentication is required such as in business registration. It can be obtained only through a secured terminal, which can verify user's information and the authenticity of their ID cards.
"It's exciting to try the new service. It will be convenient for people like me who are not used to carrying their ID card all the time," said Chen Ting, 21, a student who registered on a secured terminal on Thursday and expected to get a full-function e-ID card 24 hours after registration.
The only concern, she said, is whether the e-ID card could be copied if she loses her phone, and also, whether the app account could be stolen by other people who may use her private information for illegal activities.
Zhu Xiongjie, deputy director of Cloud VTM, the secured terminal provider, said the system uses multiple ways to ensure the safety of e-ID cards, including fingerprint and facial recognition and an 8-digit password.
A government office or business would provide a QR code that would be scanned to obtain a person's identity information, "and the code will expire within seconds", Zhu said. The automatic facial recognition system also reduced the false recognition rate from 15 percent under artificial recognition to 1 percent.
According to Yan, provinces including Heilongjiang, Henan and Shaanxi, and the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region are also testing the e-ID card system and the service will be expanded soon.