Three common QR Code myths debunked

As a product manager, you may have come up against some common misconceptions around QR Codes. In this blog, we aim to debunk three myths which could be standing in the way of winning new merchants, consumers and revenue.

Myth #1: QR Codes just represent a URL

In the past it was very much the case that QR Codes would contain a URL which is would redirect a user to a website. But they have evolved and can now be used for so much more. For instance, one of the most popular uses is to make payments using a mobile phone with a camera and a mobile app that can scan, store, and share QR Codes. The QR Code makes three payment options possible: 1. Paying merchants with QR scanners – On payment, customers display their unique QR Code to the merchant using the QR app. The merchant then scans the QR Code to identify the payee before deducting the amount from the customers’ mobile wallet, using a compatible mobile payment app. 2. Paying merchants without QR scanners – Here, the merchant displays a QR Code which customers scan using a QR scanning app on the mobile device. Once the app identifies the merchant, customers complete the payment. 3. Peer to peer payments – These payments cover the likes of person to person payments such as rent or reimbursing a friend for a meal. Here, both the payer would scan the unique QR Code of the payee using a payment app to complete the transaction.

Myth #2: QR codes can be “hijacked” or redirected to a pirate site

Strictly speaking, the information held in a QR Code cannot be altered easily, nor can it be linked to a different URL. While websites can be ‘hijacked’, QR Code information remains secure because it is a static, printed image. Also, QR Code structural technology makes it difficult for a highly modified or customised QR Code to accidentally direct the user to an unintended destination. Tampered QR Codes are also unlikely to scan. While the likelihood of theft and fraud is less likely using QR codes when compared to cash and credit card, mobile phone owners must keep their security pins safe, and merchants should ensure that their printed QR codes are not tampered with.

Myth #3: The QR Code is just a fad

The QR Code is, without doubt, a fad as a marketing tool. However, as a data entry device, the QR Code is a great tool. QR codes have become a promising trend for the future of mobile payments, proving to be a convenient way to make payments. Research shows that QR Code payments could replace other forms of mobile payment amongst Asia’s consumers and merchants, particularly China. However it should be noted QR Codes should be viewed as complementary to your broader payments strategy, not as a replacement. For tier 1 to tier 3 merchants, it is essential that they provide customers appropriate ways to pay all from one solution. Due to fast-growing mobile phone adoption and a lack of efficient traditional infrastructure, Africa and South-East Asia are well placed to adopt QR Code payments. This growth is faster than the rate at which merchants are installing dedicated payment terminals. GSMA Intelligence reports that in 2016, there were over 1 billion mobile subscribers in Sub-Saharan Africa and the penetration rate is growing at 4.2% annually. Smartphone penetration rates in Africa are expected to increase 52.9% annually, and in particular, South East Asian countries such as Indonesia, Myanmar, and Vietnam smartphone subscriptions are supposed to more than double by 2021. QR Codes solutions require customers to have smartphones, but it is clear from the current growth rates if a provider does not act on (non-NFC) smartphone-based payment solutions now they will be left behind by those that do. With potential like this, you do not want to be the last one to the party!

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