Invented in 1994, a Quick Response code is a 2D barcode that can be read by smartphones. It allows over 4000 characters to be encrypted in barcode form vertically & horzontally, which can then be scanned by a smartphone to display text, open a url, or make a payment. Scanning a code gives the user immediate access to the content held within.
They are accessible to anyone with a smartphone. Created in Japan, the technology is now standard there. An average of 5 codes were scanned each day by Japanese citizens in 2011 and that number continues to grow.
QR codes are also a big part of daily life in China. Â This is mainly thanks to WeChat, which uses QR functionality for many things, such as adding a new contact by scanning the code on a friends phone. Â These codes are also used by retailers to allow customers to make purchases with WeChat Pay. Of the $5.5 trillion of mobile payments made in China each year, most of these are powered by QR.
QR codes are powered my EMV technology when making contactless payments. Visa's EMVCo standard is called mVisa, which could help advance QR codes. Although they appears to be being replaced with NFC in the west, QR codes are still going strong in the Asian market.
WeChat has reader software embedded to enable any user to scan these codes, whereas in the west, users have to download a specific software to their smartphones in order to scan a code. Merchants are using these codes toÂ encourage Online2Offline sales, and also to gain new followers to their WeChat account. On WeChat, merchants can only promote their content to users who have signed up to follow them, so gaining a large follower base is essential for success.