China’s National Healthcare Security Administration, which is responsible for monitoring and regulating the healthcare industry has announced that Alipay and WeChat Pay, China’s mobile payment duopoly will have their payment systems embedded into the country’s national healthcare system.
In a pilot project in seven piloting provinces and cities, the National Healthcare Security Administration has just started issuing electronic certificates that will be China’s digital version of a social security card, giving Chinese citizens access to their national healthcare insurance scheme.
Residents in the pilot provinces and cities will be able to active their e-certificates either through a dedicated app associated with the scheme, or, through Alipay and WeChat Pay, if they are already users of the two payment apps.
With their e-certificates activated, WeChat or Alipay users will be able to enjoy all the benefits provided by their physical social security card, but without the hassle of having to bring one when they are making doctor appointments or pay for healthcare services and medicines.
This is not the first time that Alipay and WeChat Pay have incorporated their platforms into China’s public services.
In 2018, the Chinese Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security launched electronic social security cards on a nationwide basis. The card enables users to access information such as their identification, employment, and payment records. People can also make online payments for social security expenses, including fees for insurance, training and test fees, and other relevant payments by using WeChat Pay and Alipay.
In June of this year, the Chinese government launched mini-programs on WeChat and Alipay that provide users access to 200 government services regardless of their geological or time restrictions. These services cover different forms of inquiries, payments, applications, and complaints across such matters as digital ID, education, civil administration, social security, entry and exits from the country, business registration, cultural travel, and the judicial system.
China continues to a digital ecosystem that allows the government to increase efficiency and cut down on the use of “paper” and that allows users to forego using cash for payments in favor of digital payments. The latest announcements related to the use of Alipay and WeChat Pay for health services continues this trend.