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Alipay and Sina Weibo Launch Public Service Platform

Getting Married Through Weibo? Alipay and Sina Weibo have launched a new service where paying traffic fines, handling immigration issues or scheduling marriage registration no longer requires hourlong queuing at the Public Service Hall.

Manya Koetse

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Getting Married Through Weibo? Alipay and Sina Weibo have launched a new service where paying traffic fines, handling immigration issues or scheduling marriage registration no longer requires hourlong queuing at the Public Service Hall. With the coming of a new online city services platform, it can all be done by mobile phone.

On April 22,   Ant Financial Services, Alibaba Group and Sina Weibo jointly launched “Internet & City Services” (互联网+城市服务), an online platform that makes it possible for residents to arrange public service issues online. Local governments can offer the so-called “smart city” strategy by joining the Internet & City Services platform that allows them to speed up the process time of their public services.

At present 12 Chinese cities, including Shanghai, Hangzhou and Guangzhou, already use the new online platform. Mobile phone users can enter the public services option through the Alipay, Sina Weibo or the Taobao app. Different cities have various service options. In Guangzhou, for example, it is possible to arrange a travel pass for Hong Kong or Macao via Weibo. In Shanghai, users can schedule marriage registration or sign up for the public library.

Alipay, also called the ‘PayPal of the East’, was founded by the Alibaba Group and now belongs to the Ant Financial Services Group. It already has over 270 million active users. Together with Sina Weibo, that roughly has 280 million registered users, the apps reach an enormous audience, making it easier for local governments to connect with their citizens.

Mobile Government

Although Weibo CEO Wang Gaofei and Ant Finance’s Group Cai Fanzhi have stated that the “smart city” project was developed for the convenience and benefit of its users, it also has great potential for the government. The platform gives more insight into public data, and covers both the urban and more rural areas of China.

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Alibaba, Sina Weibo and the Ant Finance Group are important partners for the Chinese government: (1) Alibaba operates cloud computing service Aliyun, that provides cloud services to the government. In doing so, China can save up to 50% on IT costs (Sina 2015). (2) Sina Weibo is China’s largest government information platform. Weibo is especially interesting to governments, because 80% of its users access it through mobile phone, making it an important “mobile platform”. By the end of 2014, over 130,000 Weibo accounts were official government accounts. By giving local governments a platform to interact and communicate with their publics, Weibo helps in turning local governance into mobile governance (Jiang & Schlaeger 2014). (3) The Ant Financial Group’s Alipay is China’s largest online payment platform. Throughout the country, people already pay their electric or water bills through Alipay in 361 cities. The government relies on Alipay for handling the financial services within mobile public services platforms.

According to data provided by the China Internet Information Center, China has an approximate 649 million internet users. 557 million of them are mobile phone users. The numbers prove that the combination of mobile phones, the Internet and public services is a powerful one, also because it will be able to reach people in the more remote parts of China. Due to the great potential of China’s mobile market, many see the new system as the beginning of public service digitalisation. Making an online appointment for marriage registration is probably just be the start; wedding bells might be ringing through mobile phones in the future.

 

– by Manya Koetse

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References/Sources

Jiang, Min and Jesper Schlaeger. 2014. “How Weibo Is Changing Local Governance in China.” The Diplomat, Aug 24.
http://thediplomat.com/2014/08/how-weibo-is-changing-local-governance-in-china/ [23.4.15].

Sina Weibo. 2015. 支付宝与微博推互联网+城市服务:可登记结婚. CNET, April 22. http://www.cnetnews.com.cn/2015/0422/3050906.shtml [23.4.15].

image: http://www.leiphone.com/news/201504/G8qMeE8H86A3UdmW.html

©2014 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

Manya Koetse is the editor-in-chief of www.whatsonweibo.com. She is a writer and consultant (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends in China, with a focus on social media and digital developments, popular culture, and gender issues. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

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China Digital

TikTok’s In-Video Search Function (And How to Activate It)

TikTok shows a glimpse of what in-video search is going to look like in the future.

Manya Koetse

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What is TikTok’s new in-video search function and how to activate it?

Twitter’s most awesome WeChat guru Matthew Brennan recently posted about an “in-video search function” launched in the Chinese social video app TikTok (抖音). (Click here to read about the difference between the Chinese and overseas version of TikTok).

As shown in a video posted by Brennan, the function allows TikTok users to select the face or clothes of a person appearing in a short video to search for other videos or images containing the same person or clothes.

The ‘vision search’ is a powerful new function within the super popular app.

The idea is that it becomes easier than ever for Tiktok users to find (and buy!) a piece of clothing, that perfect handbag, or even a snack featured in a video.

It also helps users to quickly find other videos in which an online celebrity appears. The function ultimately is an additional feature that keeps users scrolling and shopping within the app – increasing app traffic – as long as possible.

On September 16, Chinese media reported about the function as a “powerful” new tool that greatly strengthens the functionality of the popular short video app.

The function might not immediately seem completely new to Chinese app users; like Google Image Search, Baidu and Taobao also have similar functions (百度识图, 淘宝识图).

On e-commerce platform Taobao, for example, you can take a photo of an item you want (e.g. a certain snack as in example below) and Taobao will try to find the exact same product and list the online stores where you can buy it.

But TikTok’s in-video search function is on a whole new level; it does not require users to scan or upload a photo at all. It gives an indication of what visual search will be like in the future.

Whatever video comes by in your TikTok stream, you only need to click the “search” function (识图), select the part of the video you want to search for (you can drag the square from area to area), and TikTok will find the product or face you’re looking for – as long as there are comparable products/faces (it does so very fast).

Very much like Taobao, TikTok will recommend various (in-app) online stores where the product can be purchased.

Want to try out the function? For now, it only works in the Chinese version of the app and is still in the ‘testing phase’ and does not work with all videos.

Make sure you have an updated version of TikTok.

1. Go to “me” (我) page within TikTok
2. Tick the three lines in the top right corner
3. Go to the last option in the sidebar menu titled “lab” (实验室)
4. Activate the function (image below).

So now if you spot a dress you like and would like to buy, press the ‘search’ button on the right of a video, select the dress, and TikTok becomes like your personal shopping assistant looking for similar dresses for you.

Tiktok makes shopping supereasy.

This really makes online shopping more addictive than ever, and also makes it more difficult for people in online videos to hide where they bought their clothing, or what other videos they are in.

Read more about Tiktok here.
Read more about Chinese apps here.

By Manya Koetse

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us.

©2019 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com

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China Digital

Didi Riders Can Now Have “Verified Party Members” Drive Them Around

Party-building 3.0? Didi has got it covered.

Manya Koetse

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First published

This is Party-building in the new era: Didi now allows users of its Premier Car Service to let a verified Party member drive them to their destination.

On September 20, as the People’s Republic of China is nearing its 70th-anniversary celebrations, the country’s most popular taxi-hailing app Didi published an article on Weibo and WeChat explaining its verified Party Member Driver Program.

Recently, riders in Beijing may have noticed something different at Didi’s Premier Car service, which is called “Licheng” 礼橙专车 since June of last year.

Some of Licheng’s drivers now have a red background to their profile photos accompanied by a Communist Party emblem. Upon clicking the profile of these drivers, customers will see that this driver is a Party Member Driver (“党员司机”) – meaning that the Didi driver’s status as a Party member has been verified through Didi’s “Red Flag Steering Wheel” program (红旗方向盘项目) that was set up in November 2018.

Didi’s “Red Flag Steering Wheel” program (红旗方向盘项目) that was set up in November 2018. Image via Guancha.

Didi writes that these drivers can also be identified as Party members through the red sticker on the dashboard at the passenger side, which literally says “Party member driver.”

The article explains that the recent project is an effort to contribute to China’s Party-building in the digital era, and that Didi aims to establish a Party member community within its company.

This car is driven by a Party member (image via Didi/Weibo).

The company is apparently planning to make this community a lively one, as it promises to provide online and offline activities that will help these drivers stay up to date with the latest developments within the Party, and that will increase their “Party awareness.”

Starting this month, Didi will reportedly also offer “patriotic classes” to all of its drivers via its online classroom program.

China has more than 88 million Party members. Party membership does not come overnight; those who want to become a Communist Party member need to attend Party courses, pass written tests, be recommended by other members, and pass a screening (read more here).

As for now, riders cannot manually pick to have a Party member as their driver; a nearby driver will be automatically selected when they order a car – if it is a Party member, they will know straight away from the driver’s profile.

For now, Didi has set up “mobile Party branches” in Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, and a number of other cities.

On Weibo, some see the initiative as a marketing move from Didi’s side. “If you hear the driver is a Party member, you know it’s reliable. It’s a good thing.”

The past year was a tough year for Didi, after the murders of two young women by their Didi driver made national headlines, causing outrage and concerns about customer’s safety when hailing a car through the Didi company.

By Manya Koetse

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us.

©2019 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com

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