The popular mobile application WeChat is poised to become China's official electronic personal identification system. "The government of Guangzhou, capital of the southern coastal province of Guangdong, started on Monday a pilot program that creates a virtual ID card, which serves the same purpose as the traditional state-issued ID cards, through the WeChat accounts of registered users in the city's Nansha district," reports South China Morning Post. From the report: It said that trial will soon cover the entire province and further expand across the country from January next year. The program's success would mark one of the most significant milestones for WeChat after it was initially rolled out by Tencent as a mobile messaging service in 2011, and then evolved into the country's largest social network, as well as a popular online platform for payments and money transfers. Shenzhen-based Tencent has estimated that WeChat, marketed as Weixin on the mainland, recorded 980 million monthly active users in the quarter ended September 30. The WeChat ID program was co-developed by the research institute of the Ministry of Public Security and Tencent's WeChat team, and supported by various banks and several other government departments. The project is expected to help deter online identity theft, as facial recognition technology is used to verify applicants before their virtual ID cards get authorized. Those verified will be able to use their WeChat ID to register in hotels and apply for government services without the need of bringing their physical ID cards.