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QR Codes: The Unsung Hero of Payments?

Contactless payments are top-of-mind as businesses commit to keeping customers safe during COVID-19. Are QR codes the unsung hero of this shift?

QR (quick response) codes were developed over a quarter of a century ago as an evolution of standard one-dimensional barcodes. While QR codes have been in consumers’ periphery for decades, their visibility and use increased dramatically with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Given that most Americans have a smartphone in their pocket, scanning and accessing information via a QR code is as simple as the snap of a photo. If you’ve seen a QR code posted on the window of your favorite storefront recently, or at the bottom of your restaurant receipt, you know how valuable QR codes can be in streamlining the checkout process.

This shift toward contactless transactions is top-of-mind for businesses as they commit to keeping their employees and customers safe in the face of a pandemic. QR codes are proving to be an essential tool in connecting in-person interactions with digital experiences. Some businesses are employing QR codes to manage check-in processes and control the number of visitors in a physical space. Others are using QR codes to facilitate contact tracing should the need arise.

QR codes are particularly helpful in reducing contact in the food services industry. They can be used to access digital menus rather than reusing physical menus that require sanitization. Online ordering can be linked directly to digital menus, making the ordering process quick and easy.

Where QR codes shine the brightest (in our opinion) is their ability to facilitate payments. Continuing with the food services example, point of sale (POS) solutions can integrate QR codes into the checkout process by including a scannable QR code on a printed receipt. Paying via the QR code keeps the checkout process digital and eliminates the need for physical exchange of cash or payment cards. A quick scan of the code brings diners to the payment screen, where they can enter card information or pay using a digital wallet. Tips can be added through the interface and receipts can be emailed directly to consumers.

What’s next for QR code payments? We predict them becoming more prevalent in the unattended payments space, facilitating transactions at vending machines and parking facilities. They could also prove useful in bridging the gap between physical invoice presentment and digital invoice payments. Regardless of where they go from here, the resurgence of QR codes during COVID-19 is likely to be a lasting one.

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