Google recommits to QR codes with its acquisition of California startup Punchd

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Google has had a rocky past when it comes to QR codes. The tech and search engine giant had once adopted the codes for its Places product, which allowed people to “check-in” at their favorite locations by scanning the codes with their smart phones. Earlier this year, Google discontinued its use of the codes, saying that they were neither viable nor attractive enough to justify the company’s support. Now, however, Google seems to have had a change of heart.

 On Monday, Google announced that it had acquired a California-based startup called Punchd, a company that specializes in brand loyalty. Consumers buying products that are part of Punchd’s loyalty program are offered a QR code to scan, which adds to a running tally. Once consumers have enough “punches,” they are alerted of their eligibility of a loyalty reward – a free cup of coffee or something similar.

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NFC technology has monopolized the majority of Google’s attention, but the company has not abandoned QR codes. The acquisition of Punchd will have implications toward Google’s increasing interest in local commerce.

There is speculation that Google’s move to buy Punchd was little more than a form of talent recruitment. Given that the Punchd team consists of only six members, five of whom have degrees in computer science or engineering, this notion may not be far-fetched. Time will tell whether Google will seek to put the QR-driven loyalty program to use.

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