China ‘social credit’: Beijing sets up huge system

BBC News
October 26, 2015
By: Celia Hatton BBC News, Beijing

In most countries, the existence of a credit system isn’t controversial. Past financial information

China's biggest matchmaking service, Baihe, has teamed up with Sesame
China’s biggest matchmaking service, Baihe, has teamed up with Sesame

is used to predict whether individuals will pay their mortgages or credit card bill in the future.

But China is taking the whole concept a few steps further. The Chinese government is building an omnipotent “social credit” system that is meant to rate each citizen’s trustworthiness.

By 2020, everyone in China will be enrolled in a vast national database that compiles fiscal and government information, including minor traffic violations, and distils it into a single number ranking each citizen.

That system isn’t in place yet. For now, the government is watching how eight Chinese companies issue their own “social credit” scores under state-approved pilot projects.

One of the most high-profile projects is by Sesame Credit, the financial wing of Alibaba. With 400 million users, Alibaba is the world’s biggest online shopping platform. It’s using its unique database of consumer information to compile individual “social credit” scores.

Users are encouraged to flaunt their good credit scores to friends, and even potential mates. China’s biggest matchmaking service, Baihe, has teamed up with Sesame to promote clients with good credit scores, giving them prominent spots on the company’s website.     [FULL  STORY]

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