December 18, 2020

A New Age for QR Codes

Originally thought of as just a way to transfer money peer-to-peer—most often used by friends to split the lunch bill without paying fees—the use of QR codes as payment in the Americas has increasingly become a tool for more than just Millennials. During this socially distanced year, it has allowed people to pay for virtual events or even tip service workers during the pandemic.

For those less familiar with this concept, some basics. What is a QR Code? QR stands for quick response and is a scannable barcode that can direct a user to pay using a version of the matrix barcode. A QR code traditionally consists of black squares arranged in a square grid on a white background, which can be read by an imaging device such as a camera or scan engines typically used in Retail. It uses four standardized encoding modes to store data efficiently: numeric, alphanumeric, byte/binary, and kanji (the latter, which are the adopted logographic Chinese characters used in the Japanese writing system).

Unsurprisingly, QR code use is significant in Asia, and although expectations are tempered, QR codes are expected to emerge as one way to make smaller purchases in our daily lives. Undoubtedly, this will be the case with some verticals more than others, but those who don’t have or don’t use tap-to-pay mobile wallets may learn to rely on this as another way to complete touch-free transactions, as a matter of course.

Following a broader trend toward contactless payment adoption, we plan to integrate the use of QR codes into the checkout process. Customers can pay for their purchases without touching a PINpad or signing a receipt. Secure and touch-free, the addition of QR code payments may help ease some customers’ wariness about continuing to shop in person.

So, if your interest has been piqued, you might want to get an idea of what implementing this would entail. To begin with, a merchant would need to set up an account with any of several payment services offering QR to tender with, and the POS system would need to be set up to accept a new method of payment—for tender and recognition in the back office. As a vehicle between the point-of-sale and the device, we would provide any specifications for our MCM product so that the POS may effectively communicate those specific instructions on payment. (As with other tenders, MCM would do all of the heavy lifting on the actual processing of response messaging to the host, but we do always depend on the POS to send us the request and subsequently be able to interpret our response.)

Ultimately, there are several takeaways from the QR theme. We know that the ubiquitous use of smartphones has made it easier than ever for customers to purchase things from the comfort of “wherever’, whether that’s at home, at the neighborhood coffee shop, or in line at the supermarket. This success, initially found by online-first brands, has led to an expansion into physical stores that are ever more seamlessly connected with their keystone online experiences. For more traditional brick and mortar stores, the pressure is on to create wholly cohesive customer experiences. We recognize that need to evolve and adapt. And by firmly placing the QR feature on our roadmap, we aim to reflect a sustained focus on that innovation and the pursuit of new ways to help merchants expand their business safely with continued touch-free payment options and experiences.