Tencent and social credit scoring: the risk tech titans have to take

It's a perfect way for tech giants to commercialise their vast collections of data. But will public and private plans to build credit databases come into conflict?

On January 30, Chinese tech giant Tencent offered the vast customer base of its WeChat social media programme something new. By following an account called Tencent Credit and sharing personal details including their name, national ID and phone number, users could receive a credit score from 300 to 850. For those with good scores, there was access to interest-free microloans from Tencent-backed WeBank and deposit-free bike rides from another Tencent investee, Mobike.

But users didn't have long to enjoy the privilege. By late on January 31, the account offered only a message saying “Hi, thank you for following Tencent Credit. The national public testing, offered over limited time,...

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