“The strictest ever real-name registration for mobile users” introduced last Monday is far from the whole story, as Chinese regulators had already set specified deadlines for three other areas that would influence millions of Chinese: online payment, parcel delivery, and live video streaming.
Alipay and WeChat Pay
China has the most internet users in the world. Yet a report from Tencent this January shows that on average 81,000 people fell victims of online payment faily in China last year.
Last December, China’s central bank published regulations on non-bank institutions’ online payment services, requiring real-name registration to open accounts. The policy will be effective from July 1st, 2016.
In response, Alibaba-backed Ant Financial announced earlier this month that Alipay expects its 270 million users to connect their mobile phone number with a bank account based in mainland China, and to complete real-name registration, or they may face restrictions when paying with Alipay balance. To finish the registration, users either need to connect their accounts with bank cards, or submit ID cards and social security account information.
Tencent also started sending notifications to urge the 300 million users of WeChat Pay and the enterprise-focused TenPay to go through registration. A notice sent this March mentioned the deadline of “July 1” as well, indicating that WeChat Pay users without complete registration information may have their access restricted. This would include access to the WeChat Hongbao (red envelope) service, that was used by 420 million people on the day of 2016 Chinese New Year alone, with 8.08 billion “red envelopes” being sent.
Real-name registration for parcel delivery has been officially put into effect by China’s State Post Bureau since last November. Senders must leave their mobile phone numbers, and postmen must check the senders’ identity and make sure that the parcel contains exactly the same items as listed by the sender.
In this area, enforcement of the new regulations has been ineffective, as reports point to problems at both the customer side and the courier company side. Customers have been unwilling to show their IDs, with many concerned that their personal information might fall into the wrong hands.
China saw over 20 billion parcel deliveries in 2015. This large number may not seem pleasing to those in charge of enforcing the new regulations.
Live Video Streaming
More than 20 online live streaming platforms, including Baidu, Sina, and iQIYI, jointly published a statement this April, promising to real-name-register all their online hosts by June 1st, after an earlier controversy involving a Chinese state banning of ‘low taste’ content on live streaming platforms.
The convention stipulates that online streamed videos must be kept uploaded for at least 15 days for the purposes of examination by the authorities, that no anchor is allowed to broadcast videos concerning politics, arms, drugs, violence or sex, and that people under 18 are denied access to live broadcasting. In addition, live streamed content will be supervised 24/7.
According to the mobile internet consulting agency iiMedia Research, China now has nearly 200 live show platforms watched 200 million users, with a market size of RMB nine billion (USD 1.37 billion).
(Top photo from Baidu Images)