People in China Need a Green Light From Alibaba App to Move Around Country
Ant Financial’s QR health codes determine who can travel
Apps seen as vital for virus control as nation returns to work
By Kari Soo Lindberg and Jinshan Hong, Bloomberg
March 23, 2020
To get permission to leave China’s coronavirus epicenter and return to his job in Hong Kong, a Chinese banker needed two things: a letter from his company and a green health code from Alipay.
The man, who gave his name only as Clarence because of privacy concerns, secured the necessary permission last week and boarded a high-speed train to the border city of Shenzhen. “It was like the drama Prison Break. There are so many levels to go through and so many barriers to overcome,” he said of the challenges of leaving Hubei province.
Alipay by Ant Financial, the finance affiliate controlled by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. co-founder Jack Ma, and Tencent Holdings Ltd.’s WeChat are credited with helping curb Covid-19 since it erupted in Wuhan in January. Because they’re the primary payments channels for everything from ride-hailing to e-commerce, they already tracked the consumer activity of hundreds of millions of users.
During the outbreak, both companies released QR code systems that can be read by smartphones and determine which individuals pose health risks and need to be quarantined or could be allowed to use public spaces and transportation. Now this technology is proving instrumental in policing the country as it tries to get back on its feet...
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