What is a QR code and what is it for?

You’ve probably seen plenty of QR codes, even if you didn’t know that’s what it was. It’s a type of 2-dimensional bar code that looks a bit like a box with squiggles in it. QR stands for Quick Response, and QR codes were first used in Japan, back in 1994. Toyota used them to keep track of components and processes on the factory floor. They took a while to catch on.

QR codes aren’t just decorative print, of course. Somewhere inside those dots and white spaces is a world of information. It could be a coupon, contact details, serial numbers and more. For example, the QR code below contains a link to the Charge.com website.

An example of a QR code

To ‘translate’ a QR code into legible language, you have to point a QR scanner at the coded cube. On your smartphone, you can download a QR reader app. When you open the app and point your smartphone camera at the QR code, it can show the ‘translated’ information on your smartphone screen.

QR Codes for Payment

QR Codes are an upgraded version of old-fashioned UPC-style bar codes. The upgrade is that bar codes can only hold up to 20 characters of information while QR codes can hold up to 7,000 characters.

In the past, consumers would ‘read’ the bar code to redeem a coupon or get access to exclusive information. They could also unlock otherwise-‘hidden’ pages on websites or social media platforms. These days, lots of people have smartphones, so the QR Code is a lot more accessible.

The QR revival

WhatsApp, Apple, Amazon, Google, Instagram, and Snapchat have all re-introduced QR driven transactions, sometimes linked to NFC (Near Field Communication) technology. MasterCard launched a MasterPass QR in parts of Africa. Customers can use this QR code, their MasterCard, and their Facebook account to make instalment payments.

At the moment, QR codes are largely used for advertising purposes, but as more and more businesses move to online payment platforms, there is no limit to possible future applications.

For more information on what a QR code is and whether it’s useful, or to sign up for a merchant account, please call (888) 924-2743 or go to Charge.com.

Leave a Comment