Are QR Codes Dead? The Rise of QR Codes in the Pandemic

Update:  August 10, 2023
Are QR Codes Dead? The Rise of QR Codes in the Pandemic

Back in the day, QR codes were considered red flags and an inconvenience. The QR codes were declared dead and are expected to fade away. But did they? The simple answer is NO. 

In this blog, we’ve covered everything about how QR codes began and how did it rise from being not-so-well-known to being one of the most sought-after technology. 

QR code History

You’re probably wondering when did QR codes start before they became part of the mainstream today. 

In 1992, Masahiro Hara, a barcode scanner developer, was asked to develop a barcode scanner that could scan barcodes more quickly.

QR code history

Masahiro tried to comply by developing a more efficient scanner; however, he also began to see the limitations of barcodes.

Masahiro Hara then thought of developing a compact code that could store more data to replace the barcode system.

It was the start of the development of QR code generator technology. 

 In 1994, QR codes were released by Denso Wave and were first used to aid in manufacturing and tracking automotive parts.

Related: How Do QR Codes Work? We've Got All Your Questions Covered

QR codes way back in the 2000s

QR codes became widespread in Japan in 2002 due to the invention of smartphone cameras. 

It was also used in more innovative marketing in 2011 but was still not accepted by many consumers.

In 2011 only 6.2% of smartphone users in the US scanned a QR code.

And in another study conducted by INC magazine in 2012, it was stated that 97% of the consumers did not know what a QR code is.

In 2015, it was found that only 9% of the German population had scanned a QR code.

These QR codes are often misunderstood as a tool that pushes people to buy more products.

Aside from being placed where people have a hard time scanning them, the content where the QR codes were redirected was undefined and not mobile-optimized.

Therefore, making people doubt it even more.

Back then, the lack of technology made QR codes inconvenient to use.

Most of the mobile devices in the earlier years did not have built scanners on their camera, and people had to download an app before they were able to scan a QR code.

Because of that, QR codes were expected to fade away and were considered dead back then.

But thankfully, the rise of social media has greatly helped in the revival of QR codes as Snapchat and Messenger apps integrated a QR code feature back in 2016.

 And as we can see today, QR codes did not disappear and became more popular last year.

Are QR codes still relevant today?: The rise of QR codes

Due to the pandemic and social distancing restrictions, QR codes have become mainstream.

These QR codes are now used in various contactless transactions.

In a study that Statista conducted in September last year, the respondents who could not use QR codes were less than 15%.

And the percentage of respondents that we could scan a QR the week before the study was conducted was 30%. The study shows that QR code usage grew exponentially last year.

QR code usage in restaurants

For restaurants to keep on operating during the pandemic while still following the social distancing protocol, more than half of the restaurants in North America are now using QR codes for menus and payment transactions.

Restaurant QR codeThe data from Statista shows that more than 35% of the QR code scanners in North America have scanned QR codes on food and beverage establishments.

QR code usage in galleries

Gallery QR code

Image Source

Other establishments also use QR codes to observe the social distancing protocol.

To avoid crowds flocking on a guide, museums and cultural sites now use QR codes as audio guides.

These QR codes are also used in interactive and contactless learning.

In Italy, over 30% of galleries utilize QR codes, while 40% are interested in using QR codes.

Related: How to use QR codes in Museums and art exhibitions?

Payment Transaction using QR codes

These QR codes are also widely used in payment transactions in different countries.

A survey shows that 36% of the users in North America have scanned QR codes in payment transactions, while 52% say that open to using a QR code in payment transactions in the future.

In China, 20% was added to the 50 % of scanners that used QR codes in payment transactions in 2019.

While Macau, Japan, and India have 45%, 43%, and 40% of users, respectively, that prefer using QR codes as the payment method.

Moreover, in countries like Hong Kong and Taiwan, more than 19% of users use QR codes in their payment transactions.

So, are QR codes dead? We certainly don’t think so.

Creative Real Use Cases of QR Codes

Aside from the examples above, QR codes are also creatively used by businesses in marketing and other fields. Here are some examples:

Drone QR code in Shanghai

As I have mentioned earlier, QR codes can redirect scanners to different content. One of the things that you can do with a QR code is allow the scanner to download an app easily.

Drone QR code

Image Source

The most groundbreaking use of QR codes today uses drones to form a QR code allowing people to download their mobile app.

Cygames, a mobile game company, used more than 1,500 drones to form a scannable QR code on the sky of Shanghai.

Once the drone-formed QR code is scanned, the users are redirected to an H5 webpage where they can download the Princess Connect Re: Dive mobile app.

This stunt has captured not only the people in Shanghai but people from other countries.

Related: Huge QR code flies over the sky of Shanghai – QR code drone marketing Shanghai

QR codes in movie marketing

You can also use these QR codes to redirect scanners to photo or video content. This QR code solution often shows the audience more engaging content.

Movie QR code marketing

Image Source

Iron Man 2 launched a marketing campaign displaying a QR code on their promotional posters.

When the QR codes in these posters are scanned, the audience will be directed to photos, video trailers, and other information about the movie before it premiered.

This type of QR code can also be used in other campaigns.

QR code for a convenient service process

QR codes are not only used in marketing campaigns but are also used to provide an easier service process as well.

An online comparison and switching company in the UK (Uswitch) provides a QR code on energy bills.

When this QR code is scanned, the viewer will be redirected to a website where they see and compare the energy charge from different companies.

With this QR code, customers can also switch from one energy company to another.

This QR code lets people know the right energy company that fits their budget and allows them to have a less costly switching process.


With incorrect usage, any marketing tool would deem useless. And this is exactly what happened with QR codes.

QR codes were incorrectly used in business back then, making people suspicious of these codes.

Also, due to the lack of technology during those years, people must download an app before accessing the QR code content.

Therefore, scanning a QR code has become inconvenient for most of them.

But when the pandemic broke out last 2019, these QR codes became crucial for providing safer transactions.

They are now used in cashless payments, contactless menus, and much more.

As the technology progresses, QR codes are now used in a broader context than just redirecting the scanners to a website.

Hence, these QR codes can be used in various fields, not just in marketing. 

QR code generators, like QR TIGER,  now also provide various features allowing you to customize your QR code or incorporate a password feature to protect your important files.

Most smartphones nowadays have built-in scanners on the camera, thus saving people from the hassle of downloading a scanner app.

Therefore, making it more convenient to access the content of a QR code.

So, do you still think QR codes will fade away in the future?

To know more about QR codes, visit our website now!

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