Rail stations to allow subway passengers to view and pay for tickets using blockchain-based WeChat app
Beijing’s strict stance on cryptocurrency has not hindered new and innovative blockchain systems being rolled out across China.
The People’s Republic clearly wants nothing to do with digital money but remains very keen on its underlying distributed ledger technology. According to a report in local finance website Securities Daily, Shenzhen this week became the first city to launch a blockchain based rail transit invoicing system.
The new platform was officially rolled out at Shenzhen Metro’s Futian Station. According to the report, it will operate in conjunction with other public transport in the metropolis, including taxis and airport buses.
The initiative has been developed by the Shenzhen Municipal Taxation Bureau in partnership with multinational internet conglomerate Tencent, which operates China’s leading social network and mobile payment app, WeChat. Other partners include the Shenzhen Metro Group, MTR Shenzhen Group, Gaoguang Technology, and Guangdian Express.
This is definitely an important use case signal and if it were not likely to be able to be combined with things like their social credit score system, would be a great signal for cryptocurrency adoption. However, paired with their social credit score system, this could be a vehicle for oppression. A digial money system is easily used with their social credit score system to determine whether or not you can spend your funds at any particular destination. Using physical money would make implementing that system more difficult. While the application of the technology is very interesting, everyone would cast a very doubtful eye on this project.
The platform will allow Shenzhen Metro passengers to view and pay for their digital tickets and payment vouchers at the end of each trip via the WeChat payments app. All payments will be recorded on a blockchain ledger, which will act as a distributed accounting database.
The Shenzhen metropolitan area, which borders Hong Kong and is part of the Pearl River Delta megalopolis, became China’s first special economic zone back in 1980. Today, Shenzhen has a population of around 20 million and is a leading Chinese technology hub, and the city’s subway system, according to the Securities Daily report, carries more than a million passengers a day. Once the blockchain ticketing system is fully launched, it is designed for 170,000 passengers to use it every day, “paying as they go” via the mobile app.