Will QR Codes Make a Comeback in 2018?

qr code

Earlier this year, WhatsApp rolled out a beta test of P2P payments. Like many messaging apps, WhatsApp is putting a lot of resources behind empowering their users to move money around. Their latest effort in this space is supporting payments via QR codes. The way this will work is users will be able to pay businesses by simply scanning a QR code.

As of now, this feature is limited to Android beta users, but WhatsApp is expected to do a wider roll-out soon. Not only is this feature appealing to the individuals who use WhatsApp, but it ties in nicely with the company’s recent release of a free Android app for small and medium businesses.

The other really interesting aspect of this announcement is the use of QR codes. Because this was once a very promising technology that seemed to fade into obscurity, we want to take a brief look at the history of QR codes, and then explore if this may be the year they make a big comeback.

A Quick History of QR Codes

The history of QR codes dates all the way back to 1994. This technology was originally designed to track vehicles during manufacturing. Over the next decade, QR codes began to make their way into advertisements. The idea was to provide a shortcut for people to visit a specific website.

As the iPhone took off, the prevalence of QR codes increased as well. However, US consumers weren’t nearly as eager to actually use this technology. A big problem was the fact that most smartphones lacked a native QR code reader. In order to scan these codes, someone would first have to download a dedicated app.

Why 2018 May Be the Right Time for QR Codes

It’s important to note that even though QR codes haven’t taken hold in the US, they are commonly used in a number of other countries. Given that success, it’s easy to see how the right conditions could lead to QR codes becoming something that is actually used in the United States.

The main issue that we touched on above was the lack of dedicated QR code scanning. WhatsApp solves this problem by using QR codes in a specific way. Instead of asking someone to randomly scan a banner for more information, the payment process means an individual will already have WhatsApp open.

Using QR codes in this way is as simple as taking a picture. If more companies follow WhatsApp’s lead and fully think through their use cases for this technology, there are definite benefits to using QR codes to speed up different processes.

If you want to keep an eye on how QR code adoption progresses throughout the year, along with any other payment technologies that may impact your business, be sure to come back every week to read our latest posts!

Posted on Wednesday, June 6th, 2018