In the Western / developed countries QR Codes became notorious: QRCodes that were too big or too small became impossible to scan. Back in 2010 when they first appear, phones weren’t equipped with smart cameras, they wouldn’t recognize a QR code without an app for it. They seemed more like a gimmick rather than a useful purpose. Some might say, QRCodes failed as a marketing tool, or did they?

China: a very different story

In some emerging economies, like China, QRCodes found its purpose. They are now widespread, more and more used.
China began its transition to a cashless society much earlier than anyone else. It all started with mobile wallets Alipay and Wechat Pay.
Alipay, the mobile wallet of the Chinese eCommerce giant Alibaba Group, was launched in 2004. Tencent’s WeChat Pay, as well as messaging app, it was its own mobile wallet activated by QRCode.
Also, merchants adopted QRCodes en masse, for instance, in 2016, Starbucks China, adopted his method of payment. Now 2,500 Chinese Starbucks outlets across China accept payments via WeChat Pay.
To confirm that, The Financial Times did a survey of 1,000 urban Chinese and found, China’s online payments market a “duopoly of one” – thanks to QRCodes.

82.6 % use Alibaba’s Alipay as one of their three main payment methods.
64.3 % use Tencent’s WeChat Pay.
6.6 % use UnionPay QuickPass, a digital payment service owned by the state-run debit and creditnetwork

In Beijing, for instance, QR Codes were placed on lampposts and bus stations: now they are used register complaints and share information e.g. Buses timetable.

There were other countless uses for QR Codes in China: from giving tips to a waiter in a restaurant, in billboard adverts and even used in transportation.

QRCodes became so important in China that in August 2017, China’s national QR Code standard evaluation and certification system was officially launched. That means National standards will prevent false information dissemination via QR code, including hidden backdoors and consumer snares.

It is estimated that the QR Code market in Chine will reach CNY200 billion (USD30 billion) by 2020

India: demonetization made room for QRCode adoption

In November 2016, India accelerated its path toward becoming a cashless society by rapidly demonetizing and removing 86 % of all cash from its economy.
In February 2017, NPCI (National Payments Corporation of India), MasterCard and Visa introduced a standardised QR code mobile payments in the country.

Market leader mobile payments app Paymt also use QR Codes. Even small shops use the Paymt app. In Delhi, commuters can create QR-based online tickets using their Paytm app, while in Mumbai Metro allows commuters can scan the Paytm QR Codes at ticket counters to pay for tickets or recharge their metro cards
Paymt became so widespread that consumers can make donations in places of worship via the app using its QR Code method.


Main photo: Nagarjun Kandukuru