Inexpensive, simple, and familiar barcodes are filling the gap until other technologies step up.
QR codes are appearing virtually everywhere, these days, from fliers to magazine ads and from product packages to tourism information locations.
While near field communication (NFC) continues to drag its heels, QR codes are stepping up to make sure that the void is filled. Though the former seems to be receiving a lot of the positive press, and is the center of many of the largest mobile payment and wallet programs that are on the cusp of taking off, it is the latter that is getting the job done right now.
The primary difference is that far more consumers have devices that are compatible with QR codes than NFC.
A rapidly growing number of people know how to use QR codes by scanning them with their smartphones, and as merchants discover the best ways to use them, people are more motivated to scan. Even as NFC services such as mobile wallets start to emerge, the majority of smartphone owners have yet to obtain devices that have the technology enabled. It may have a great deal of potential and technical capability, but without the consumers who carry the right devices, it is slowly dawdling its way forward at the moment.
The infrastructure simply isn’t in place for NFC, which means that merchants and consumers alike are turning to what they can actually use right now. In many cases, that is QR codes. It is extremely inexpensive to use, and has now entered into the world of mobile payments in several locations – the primary turf of NFC. Because NFC is not as cost effective, it makes it more suitable for transactions than for advertising.
This means that while QR codes may be holding the fort while NFC figures itself out, once near field communications does come into its own, it doesn’t mean that quick response barcodes are out of a job. Instead, it is likely that they will simply continue to evolve in the marketing world, and find additional options and opportunities with which they are compatible.
The barcodes may be the main figure now, but it is likely that QR codes and NFC will both play an important role in the future of mobile, and that it will be more of a complementary one, as opposed to one of competition.