Making a comeback: Why 2018 could be a turning point for QR codes
Did you know your iPhone now has a native QR-code reader? The codes can be used to transfer money, open links to websites and exchange contact info.
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I know what you’re thinking: QR codes are lame. But ever since Apple added built-in code-scanning to iPhone cameras, the tech world has been abuzz with rumours of a comeback.
The codes can be used to transfer money, open links to websites, exchange contact info and more. North America got a glimpse of the technology’s potential when Snapchat introduced Snapcodes in 2015. Remember when everyone had Snapcodes as their profile picture?
Meanwhile, the decades-old technology has already become ubiquitous in China, where people scan QR codes every day to buy food and groceries using WeChat, a messaging app. By 2016, QR codes were enabling $165 trillion of mobile payments per year in Japan and China, according to CNN.
One year later, Apple added a QR reader to its camera.
Some observers say 2018 will be a turning point for QR codes in North America. But skeptics argue that it depends on whether tech giants like Facebook, Google and Amazon integrate the technology into their products.
So far, things are looking up.
WhatsApp, a messaging app that Facebook bought in 2014, has QR-scanning abilities, and there are rumours it will soon roll out a payment function. Google Chrome for iPhones also has QR compatibility now. Amazon has not announced any initiatives yet, but competitor Alibaba uses QR codes to fight counterfeits and allows consumers to pay for items with a simple scan.
And advertisers are likely chomping at the bit to get QR-code data.
Hootsuite CEO Ryan Holmes has said the iOS-native QR reader is a game changer for the marketing industry. In a Forbes op-ed, he pointed out that companies can track when and where people scan QR codes, generating a gold mine of data.
Imagine a world where QR codes are slapped on everything from bubble-tea cups to ATMs. That world is not too far off, it seems.