Zhima Credit makes visa applications easier

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China Daily, November 27, 2018
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People borrow books via shared bookcases by using Zhima Credit, a credit-scoring mechanism of Ant Financial Services Group, in Yangpu district, Shanghai, on Sept. 13, 2017. [Photo / Xinhua]

A credit-scoring mechanism of Ant Financial Services Group now allows Chinese travelers to circumvent the need to submit bank statements when applying for Canadian visitor visas.

Users of Zhima Credit with a score of 750 or higher can generate a free report containing their identity and financial status via Ant's Alipay mobile wallet. An English-language report can be submitted in lieu of bank statements to show their financial standing during visa applications.

Zhima Credit is an opt-in feature in Alipay that analyzes a user's digital finance footprint and assess one's creditworthiness based on five gauges: identity, behavioral preferences, payback capabilities, social networks and credit history. Using data generated by users via its related platforms, Zhima Credit ranks an individual's creditworthiness on a scale of 350 to 950.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada regarded the Zhima Credit report to be "more comprehensive than the traditional bank statements and deposit certificates typically received in support of visitor visa applications", the government agency said in a news release last week.

In part to mark the Canada-China Year of Tourism, the client service initiative can make it easier for Chinese nationals to apply for the visitor visa, while IRCC officials can quickly verify the authenticity of the report, especially when dealing with online applications.

In the first nine months of 2018, Canada welcomed 585,000 tourists from China, an increase of 4.9 percent over the same period in 2017, according to IRCC statistics. Over one-third of visitor visa applications that the agency received this year came from Chinese citizens.

"The government of Canada has set a goal of doubling the number of Chinese tourists coming to Canada by 2021," said Ahmed Hussen, Canadian minister of immigration, refugees and citizenship. "This initiative and others like it will help us achieve that goal by making the application process more convenient".

Alibaba Chairman Jack Ma proposed easier visa application procedures when he was in a dialogue with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last year.

The service is currently only available for Canadian visas, with more countries in the pipeline, according to Ant Financial.

Alipay is working on making international travel easier for Chinese nationals. The app's in-store payment service covers over 40 countries and regions across the world, and tax reimbursement via Alipay is supported in 29 countries and regions.

"Using technology, data and its influence, Alipay is transforming beyond a pure play finance solution provider into an all-rounded app dealing in multiple daily needs," said Li Chao, a fintech analyst at iResearch. "Initiatives like this can pave the way for Alipay to march into other business realms in the future."

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