Need an ad hoc personal bodyguard? He is just an app away

BEIJING (CHINA DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - People in Qingdao, Shandong province, may soon enjoy a privilege that was once the exclusive domain of business tycoons, big stars and emperors.

An app to connect you with a personal bodyguard is expected to be released early next month (September). And using the app, called Jinyiwei, is as easy as calling a taxi.

"The app has unified more than 50,000 security staff members in 47 companies in the city. Their availability will be indicated in the app's map in real time," said Mr Li Shangshang, one of the app's developers.

The app is named after a network of the secret police in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) who were under the direct orders of the emperor. Many of its members are portrayed in books and movies as tall, handsome kung fu masters.

For the modern-day Jinyiwei service, prices are expected to range from 70 to 200 yuan (S$14 to S$41) an hour, depending on the services required and the experience of the bodyguard. Many of them have military backgrounds, Mr Li said.

"Our employees need to upload their ID cards, military discharge certificates and permits," he said. "They are also required to take manners and etiquette training classes and wear a uniform at work."

The app targets mainly two customer groups: individuals and companies.

"Those who don't feel safe, especially when going somewhere uncertain or when carrying valuables, can log on and send requests," Mr Li said. "Those who are confronted with disputes or harassment but feel it's inconvenient to have police intervene, can try the app, and the right helpers will respond."

Mr Li said that enterprises and organisations also need security services, such as those engaged in the transfer of valuable goods, receiving VIP guests or even emergencies such as a first-aid situation.

He added that all the services will be provided in compliance with laws and regulations.

"Jinyiwei bodyguards are responsible for customers' safety. If there is a dispute or fight, they need to cooperate with police instead of escalating the fight," Mr Li said. They are not there to provoke or fight, he said.

The app's co-developer Yan Bing said the app is seen as an effective way to upgrade the country's security sector via the Internet and provide more job opportunities, especially for former members of the military.

Many Chinese enterprises operating businesses abroad are also in need of security and escort services. "We are planning to expand our business network to more cities and even overseas."

The developers are also considering a plan to offer quick loan services in their new version of the app. This is because many disputes result from money issues, and quick loans can help enterprises overcome such difficulties.