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A quick guide to QR code payments


Smartphones and their cameras have unlocked an entirely new way to make a payment — the QR code. QR code payments make use of information contained in the barcode-loooking image about the merchant and payment provider to complete a transaction. And, by 2025, as many as 30% of all smartphone users will use them to pay.

We take a look at

  • What QR codes are
  • What the payment benefits are, and
  • How to use them in your business.

What are QR codes?

There isn’t recently developed technology that has had a bigger comeback than the QR code. But what exactly is it? A QR code is a type of barcode that stores information as a series of pixels. When scanned, most commonly on a smartphone, it directs the user to access the relevant information or process.

The user can then: 

  • make hassle-free payments online
  • get brand information, 
  • follow brands on social media and more.

Created in the mid-nineties by Japanese company Denso Wave, QR codes were developed to improve barcoding for tracking production. Other use cases were explored, but consumers didn’t connect to the idea as they were difficult to access and they quietly disappeared from usage. 

In 2017, however, Apple enabled the iPhone camera to scan QR codes they were revived. Android followed, and suddenly QR codes were more accessible to everyday consumers.

The pandemic then hit and QR code payments became a feature of everyday life. It allowed consumers to make safe, contact-free payments, explore menus and services without speaking face-to-face with staff and allow customers to check in to venues in a quick and convenient way. 

What are the benefits of using QR codes for payments? 

QR codes are truly a multifaceted shortcut to the internet. QR stands for ‘Quick Response’, and in a few seconds users can make a contactless payment with zero effort,  enabling a stress-free customer experience. 

There are a number of other factors that make QR code payments a valuable asset to any business:

  1. They open new channels of commerce
  2. Remove friction from the customer journey
  3. Offer the capability to combine payments and loyalty programs

Accepting QR Codes payments 

So how do QR code payments work?

Most commonly QR code payments are made via the customer’s smartphone when they scan the code. Once scanned, they get taken to a payment page where they’ll have the option to enter their chosen payment details or use a mobile payment solution, like Apple or Google Pay, to complete the transaction.

A vendor can also scan a QR code on their customer’s phone. This code is provided by their bank or payment app and will contain their card details, which the business can use to finalise the transaction. 

QR codes can also facilitate app-to-app payments. Both parties, the payer and payee can open the relevant app and scan the payee’s QR code, confirm the amount to be paid, and process the payment. 

Use cases for global businesses

Different regions have taken to QR codes at different paces. Consumers in China, for example, used QR codes with major retailers, street vendors and beyond. The market has grown rapidly  and shows no signs of slowing. 

WeChat Pay and Alipay allow consumers to pay in-store by scanning a code or showing their own personal code to the cashier. Money is then deducted from mobile wallets that are, usually, linked to bank accounts.

And when it comes to how we will pay in the future, cryptocurrency wallet addresses are made up of a series of letters and numbers — no longer than 34 characters. A QR code generator app can turn this long number into an easy to use QR code which can be easily scanned if someone wants to make a payment.

Why use QR code payments?

QR code payments are one of the safest payment methods to use due to these key factors:

  1. Credit and debit card checks:
    Card payments go through their network such as Visa or Mastercard, ensuring a stable and secure transaction takes place.
  2. Local payment methods:
    Customers can choose their preferred local payment method. Promoting a safe and familiar service helps customers feel confident about trusting your business as they pay via QR code.

To find out more, contact us today.