A picture illustration shows a WeChat app icon in Beijing, December 5, 2013. Photo: Reuters/Petar Kujundzic

WeChat, one of China’s leading messaging and social media apps backed by Tencent, has launched a new function — the digital social security card — providing services such as social security inquiries and payments online, Yicai.com reported.

Tencent said it is a project developed in cooperating with the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security. So far, it has connected with 26 municipal governments, including Shenzhen, Chengdu, Zhengzhou, Shantou, Tongchuan, Xiamen, etc.

Shenzhen is one of the first batch of cities to test the medical insurance payment function embedded in the WeChat app. At least 24 hospitals in Shenzhen support WeChat’s medical insurance payment method.

In some hospitals, such as the Southern Medical University Shenzhen Hospital, more than 50 percent of payments are made via WeChat, which is comparable to the use of cash payment.