Mong Kok in Kowloon, with the new smart ID card inset. Photo: iStockphoto, Legislative Council

The Security Bureau unveiled new Hong Kong Identity cards on Wednesday and will launch a four-year move to replace all citizens cards by 2022.

Some 8.8 million people are expected to replace their identity cards in phases starting from the fourth quarter of 2018, according to papers submitted by the Security Bureau to the Legislative Council.

The new cards look similar to the existing ones, featuring one large picture and a second, smaller stereo laser image as a security feature, Radio Television Hong Kong reported. But it said the position of the two photos would be swapped, with the larger picture on the left, instead of the right.

Information printed on the new cards will remain the same, and it has a similar color scheme to the existing version.

The chip embedded on the front side of the card will be moved to the back, and the background of the new card is considerably more complex, with a multi-pattern and specific color to ensure a stronger protection against counterfeiting.

The government has also proposed including digital photographs and the gender of cardholders in the chip.

Holders will be called up to have their cards replaced in phases in accordance with their year of birth at nine dedicated replacement centers, Apple Daily reported.

However, some citizens said the new design and the use of color was similar to the Mainland Travel Permit for Hong Kong and Macau residents, also known as the “Home Return Permit”.

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