The two largest players in China’s ubiquitous mobile payments industry, WeChat Pay and Alipay, have increased their utility for Chinese citizens by integrating with the country’s national healthcare system, according to SCMP. The collaboration has been introduced on a pilot basis in seven provinces and cities throughout the country. The National Healthcare Security Administration has issued electronic social security certificates to allow Chinese citizens to access the national healthcare program via their mobile devices.
The electronic social security card can effectively replace the physical version in the provinces and regions where the pilot program was introduced. This is just another example of China’s push towards the digitization of daily life transactions. The expansion will encompass health insurance builds on the existing digitization of other public services including social security expenses, including registration fees for insurance, training and test fees, and other relevant payments.
Bloomberg estimates the market value of China’s healthcare market as of early 2019 to be $274 million. China has already offered over the counter pharmaceutical delivery via the local services platforms including Alibaba’s Ele.me and Meituan Dianping. The digitization of healthcare payments and processes comes as China’s demographics are aging. Some estimates predict that by 2027, China’s senior citizen population will double, meaning 324 million Chinese will be over the age of 60.
In addition, the digitization of healthcare will add to China’s troves of data, that can be leveraged to create better informed algorithms to efficiently manage the country’s massive population, and ensure that the healthcare system is adequately prepared for the changes and the demand it will likely experience.