Some readers will recognize this quote as paraphrasing Mark Twain’s humorous retort after newspapers falsely reported his death. The quote might be equally applied to QR codes in North America and Europe today.
QR (Quick Response) codes were first created by Toyota as a two-dimensional black and white bar codes for inventory tracking. They are now widely used in various contexts in China and Japan and apparently enabled $1.65 trillion in mobile payments in 2016.
Codes come in various shapes and colours and represent text and numbers, including website URLs. A QR code is read by a scanner downloaded to a smart phone, which either triggers an action or leads to a destination site. As a consumer, you might make a purchase or SMS donation, go to a social network or access additional information or a video. All with no internet connection.
For businesses, QR codes can be used on a variety of real-world items such as clothing, signage and packaging. Business contemplating adopting QR codes should make it easy for customers to undertake actions without excessive reading or typing. And a QR code at an airport, subway station or theatre makes more sense than a billboard on the highway, as smart phone users in the case of the former can easily and safely pull out their phones and scan the code.
For various reasons, QR codes were not widely adopted in the West and many observers predicated their total demise in recent years. But there are some indications that this is changing. In 2017, industry leading Apple installed an active QR code e-reader in the camera app of its phones. WhatsApp now allows users to confirm a contact’s identity with a QR code. And 34% of US smart phone users have scanned a QR code. Juniper Research predicts that 5.3 billion QR coupons will be redeemed by mobile phone by 2022.
And QR codes will also benefit consumers, non-profits and small businesses still using email in the immediate future (or as long as email is in use. Some analysts have predicted that social media will eventually prevail.) Codes for sending emails will help read and monitor newsletters, email marketing and emails’ performance rates. And consumers can scan a coupon and redeem in-store or on-line.
This author thinks that some of the forecasts are a little optimistic, ones we have heard before. And much will depend if major traditional media such as newspapers and television climb on board.
Get your own QR Code!
Have you ever scanned a QR code in the airport or to redeem a coupon? What was your experience like? Does your phone have an active QR code reader? Can you see other applications for QR codes? If you are interested in getting our own QR code, click here!