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China’s Upcoming Personal Credit Investigation Report

Chen Yulu, deputy governor of the People’s Bank of China, recently said, “Many young women are looking for boyfriends. The future mothers-in-law often say, “I will take a look at the guy’s credit investigation report that People’s Bank produces.”

The Personal Credit Investigation Report (PCIR) should be correctly called the “financial credit information infrastructure database.” It includes five types of information: the basics such as “Who you are, where you live, and what you do”; credit information such as “Who you borrowed money from, and whether you have paid it back”; non-financial liabilities, including utility payments such as water and electricity; social security and medical insurance; and lastly, the records of how your credit report has been checked, by whom, and for what reason.

In other words, the PCIR put together by China’s central bank, with the assistance of a computer network and big data technology, faithfully recorded everyone’s everyday life activities and debt repayments, carrying many more details than even a credit agency’s investigations.

One should never underestimate this “economic identity card.” If you don’t pay back the money you owe on time, or if it is overdue, you may not even be able to apply for a credit card. The bank will not process your application for a car loan, a mortgage, a student loan, or consumer credit. Nor can you be a CEO or member of a company’s board of directors. The bank will also directly freeze your deposits and financial products. Even worse, if you are on the list of significantly “dishonest” or “untrustworthy” people, you may not be able to take the plane, ride the high-speed rail, and may even be limited from spending on big ticket items.

China is building a comprehensive network of personal credit information with no blind spot. The PCIR was put into a trial operation starting from November 2018 and the new and formal version will be launched in May of this year. With a fully connected network, a lot of detailed information could be queried. For individuals in China, it is less and less likely to live a private life or one hidden from the government.

Source: The World Journal, March 24, 2019