24 April 2019
Tencent has launched a nationwide public beta testing of the new product, Tencent Credit, on Wednesday. Photo: Tencent Credit
Tencent has launched a nationwide public beta testing of the new product, Tencent Credit, on Wednesday. Photo: Tencent Credit

Tencent launches new credit rating system

Tencent has been testing its social credit scoring system since August 2017 as it ramps up its battle with rival Alibaba’s Sesame Credit.

On Wednesday the Shenzhen-based internet giant finally launched a nationwide public beta testing of its new product, Tencent Credit.

The service will be available to a massive user base of “all Chinese nationals who use WeChat or QQ”, Tencent’s mobile messaging apps, which had 980 million and 653 million monthly active users respectively in the quarter ended September 2017, Tech in Asia reported.

Consumers can access the platform by searching for “Tencent Credit” on WeChat, and check their credit score after confirming their identity and linking a mobile number. The scoring system ranges from 300 and 850 points, and users can access various services and perks depending on their score.

However, the public beta test came to an abrupt halt the very next day, Chinese media reported. Users who accessed Tencent Credit via WeChat were greeted with this message: “Tencent Credit nationwide time limit for public test activities is now over … We are speeding up the upgrade.”

The company had not mentioned any “time limit” when it launched the public test.

According to Tencent Credit, users with a good credit score can enjoy various privileges such as cash loans of up to 300,000 yuan (US$47,600) through the company’s microloan service Weilidai, a waiver on deposits for house rents, consumer credit, installment payment shopping, and free use of Mobike units for a month.

A user’s score is determined by an in-house algorithm that takes five elements into account: honoring commitments, security, wealth, consumption and social networking. This is similar to the system used by Sesame Credit, Alibaba affiliate Ant Financial’s proprietary credit score, Tech in Asia said.

According to the service’s terms and conditions, the scores under the five categories are determined through an assessment of the user’s historical data gathered on the internet.

This includes mobile payment transaction data from WeChat Pay and QQ Wallet, information about financial assets and repaid loans, as well as data on the quality of the user’s social network. Third party data sources such as telecom operators, financial institutions, and government departments also contribute to a user’s credit score.

Tencent began testing the credit score system in August last year by inviting “Super VIP’ members of QQ. Chinese media previously reported that

In December last year, Tencent launched an application for the credit score in Shenzhen and Guangzhou, offering a deposit-free apartment rental service for users with credit scores of 650 or higher.

It will be recalled that both Tencent and Alibaba were among the eight companies that received the People’s Bank of China’s permission for credit score system piloting in 2015.  Alibaba’s Sesame Credit was launched officially in the same year.

With its first mover advantage in the credit rating market, Sesame Credit has reached 520 million users and has helped 41.5 million of them to waive deposits worth more than US$63.6 million for the year, Ant Financial said in a statement.

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