Tucked away in a nondescript office on the sixth floor of state-owned Tsinghua Unigroup's building near Beijing's Zhongguancun tech hub, a small team of around 30 is working on a system that could help to shape the fates of hundreds of millions of Chinese youths.
Founded in 2015, China Youth Credit Management (CY Credit) is working with the Communist Youth League Central Committee (CYLCC) and the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) in a leadership group to develop a social credit system for the nation's youth.
By gathering, sorting and analysing a huge amount of data on everything from someone's educational background to what is in their online shopping trolley, CY Credit has been able to launch an app that is designed to give college students and fresh graduates a taste of the rewards brought by having a good social record.
Not to be confused with a person's basic credit history, such as a US FICO score, the app builds a digital footprint of young people's behaviour and uses that data to incentivise actions considered as positive or socially beneficial. Although similar to how a bank offers higher credit limits with lower interest charges to model customers, social credit is much wider in scope and includes non-financial actions such as antisocial behaviour and volunteering.