What is a QR code?
We’re now all comfortably familiar with the pixeled squares that characterize QR codes. We use it to order at a restaurant and to pay through our bank account, but the square matrix barcode has been around since 1994.
An acronym for quick response, the QR code was created in Japan to ease the vehicle’s tracking in the automotive industry, and it took it a while to become known globally. For a long time, QR codes have provided an easy way to access points for information and to log in to websites, but with time its functionalities have expanded. From product tracing to joining a Wi-Fi network to banking, QR codes have also become central in advertising. People are discovering the benefits of QR codes, and today they are even the elected form for official documents such as the Green Pass, as it is an internationally used technology.
The COVID-19 pandemic is popularizing the use of QR codes in many other services such as hospitality and restaurants, drawing attention to the many advantages of this touchless experience.
Social distancing was among one of the main challenges brought up by the COVID-19, and payments resented it. As citizens were asked to go cashless, innovative payment methods support the rise of e-commerce - which seems here to stay.
What is a payment with QR code?
With the need of going touch-free, paying with QR codes is becoming standard practice. It is convenient under multiple aspects. It meets the safety requirements induced by COVID-19, providing a safe, touch-free experience. But it also encounters the favors of our fast-paced lives, where quick payments can concretely save time for both customers and merchants. Just think of all the queues at the terraces, and how convenient it is to pay with a click on your phone directly from your table, and how employees can even share their QR codes to collect tips.
QR codes payments for business offer as many advantages. They allow encryption and store large quantities of information, facilitating frictionless payment processing. Human mistakes are cut short, benefitting also the customer journey, and there’s no risk of forgetting a promo code at the checkout.
They also provide a great way for merchants to accept payments without a card machine. With the payment setup inexpensive and quick to implement, more and more activities and countries have elected QR codes as the preferred payment method. China, where nowadays more than 80% of payments are processed via QR codes, is paving the way since 2018.
Alipay and WeChat are the leading examples: as WeChat declares, they are designed keeping in mind those merchants with no code scanner or cash register, but the population got quickly used to its efficiency, and Alipay and WeChat have been collaborating with some European partners to break this payment frontier.
This method of payment meets the exigencies of emergent markets as well, where QR code-based services and wallets sustain their shift toward electronic transactions.
In Europe, the demand to pay with QR code has grown relatively late and is mostly prompted by the pandemic, but it’s not holding its horses now. European countries are providing an increasing number of services that rely on QR codes, and banks and businesses are at the forefront, with The Netherlands and Belgium as particularly strong players.
For customers, to pay with a QR code is just as easy and user-friendly. It can be detected from any surface, including other screens, and without the need for any extra equipment, as you can scan QR codes directly with the camera app of most smartphones. The QR code usually redirects to the mobile banking app, making the payment only one click (or a face scan) away.
One of the few disadvantages of QR code payments is the lack of familiarity with this technology. However, as QR codes are free and easy to scan, customers are increasingly gaining confidence.
How to set up QR code payments
To implement a QR code payment is a 4-step process and a piece of cake:
1. Merchant opens a QR code generator API
2. Merchant copies the checkout page link
3. Merchant pastes the link into the QR code generator tool
4. Merchant prints out the payment QR code
There are different types of QR codes, which adapt to their different usage. Thus, here are some options merchants can consider when implementing the QR payment method. Static codes facilitate single payments, therefore are mostly used for quick face-to-face interactions, as in stores during deliveries.
There are also dynamic codes, which can be edited by the sender and can contain the merchant's information, and customers only must accept the transaction.
Customer-facing QR codes are the most flexible and easy to set up option. Merchants can decide whether they offer a static or dynamic code for the customer needs to scan. Retailer-facing QR codes instead require the merchant to scan them and are generated directly from the customers.
With Payvision helping you to implement the QR code payment API, you can set up QR codes via iDeal and Bancontact. The iDeal app allows customers to scan QR codes directly from their mobile banking apps. Bancontact, the most used payment method in Belgium, provides a mobile wallet that simplifies QR payment, both online and in stores.