Beijing has pulled back on plans to license big technology companies to develop “social credit” scores for consumers, the Financial Times reports. The People’s Bank of China selected eight tech companies in 2015 to develop pilot programs to give consumers credit scores. The initiative was part of a government-backed effort to increase lending to hundreds of millions of Chinese who want access to small business loans or consumer credit but have no collateral or financial history. Beijing originally aimed to roll out a nationwide system by 2020. The pilots, which monitored spending patterns but also personal behavior and social media activity, initially raised concerns about consumer privacy. Some of their metrics were seen as irrelevant, including proposals to factor in exercise routines. Others were considered more sinister, such as efforts to rate “honesty” or “trustworthiness” by linking credit scores to friends’ social media posts. Beijing has now decided not to award any licenses this year.
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