QR code statistics 2021: Latest numbers and use-cases on global usage

Last updated:   October 13, 2021

Being able to look at statistical research allows business owners to know the effectiveness of a certain strategy or predict the market of a certain product. You should therefore look at the QR code statistics before implementing and incorporating these two-dimensional barcodes in your business.

You probably have seen or even scan a QR code before. These two-dimensional barcodes are now everywhere and are used in various fields from payment transactions to contact tracing. 

But the QR code popularity is not enough to prove the effectiveness of this product. These QR code statistics will then aid you in your decision-making. 

What is a QR code?

Quick response codes or QR codes are two-dimensional barcodes. But unlike the traditional barcodes that can only store and display alphanumeric characters, QR codes can store so much more. 

These QR codes can store up to 7000 characters including Hiragana and Kanji. 

QR codes can also store complex data such as URLs and can redirect you to almost anything that can be found on the internet.

By scanning these codes using smartphones, scanners will be redirected to the QR code’s content. This may be a website, a vCard, social media profiles, or files such as pdf, video, and photos.

History of QR codes

QR codes were first developed in 1992 when barcode scanner developer Masahiro Hara, was asked by his clients to make a faster barcode scanner. 

 As Masahiro Hara tried to comply with the needs of his clients he also saw the limitations of barcodes. The traditional barcodes can only store up to 20 characters and they can only store information and can be scanned in one dimension. 

So Masahiro Hara thought of developing a code that can replace the barcode system. A compact code that can store more data and can be scanned in multiple directions. He then started to develop QR codes. 

These codes were released in 1994 and were first used to aid in automotive parts manufacturing and tracking. 

Unfortunately, this two-dimensional code was not well accepted in its early years. 

World wide QR code statistics and use cases

Although QR codes were developed and released for more than two decades, it wasn’t until 2017 when it was widely accepted. And now, these QR codes are used worldwide. 

In 2002 the black and white square code became widely used in Japan due to the invention of smartphone cameras. And companies were already using these codes in marketing back in 2008. 

Unfortunately, these codes faced a lot of barriers and were still misunderstood in 2011. Because of the lack of technology, people have to download a third-party app to scan a QR code. Aside from this, there are also problems regarding how QR codes were used back in the day. 

According to Forbes Magazine (2011), QR codes are placed in which consumers will have a hard time scanning them. 

Other codes back then also redirect to a broken link making consumers doubt it even more. 

Thankfully, the barrier of downloading a third-party app was overcome when smartphone companies started to incorporate a QR code scanner in their mobile phones back in 2017. 

The percentage of smartphone users that had scanned a QR code then increased. The QR code statistics show the increase of QR code usage from 21% in 2013 to 34% in 2017. 

QR code usage has started to continuously increase since then. The coupons that were redeemed using QR codes also quadrupled from 1.3 billion QR code coupons in 2017 to 5.3 billion QR code coupons in 2019. 

In a study conducted in 2019 by Global Web Index, the QR code Global percentage of QR code users was 8% in North America, 13% in 15% in Pacific Asia, and 10% in Europe and Middle East Asia. 

America

You probably have seen or scanned at least one of these two-dimensional codes. These black and white codes can make various processes convenient and interactive as well. 

But it wasn’t actually until recently that these QR codes were accepted in America. A study shows that only 6.2% of smartphone users in the US have scanned a QR code back in 2011. 

In 2012, the  INC magazine also stated that 97% of the consumers did not know what QR code is. According to the magazine, QR codes are the next dinosaur in marketing and are expected to become extinct. 

This continued until 2017 when a popular social media platform in America, Snapchat uses QR codes in their platform called Snapcode. Snapcodes were scanned 8 million times per day in 2017 to add friends, unblock filters, and open websites. 

In the same year, Apple updated and integrated a QR code scanner on their iPhone software allowing people to scan a QR code without downloading a third-party app. 

The QR code usage then started to increase and had reached 34% of scanners in 2018. 

From the year 2018, the QR code interaction grew by 94% in 2020. Meaning, consumers are now scanning QR codes more often. Which led to the increase of QR code reach by 96% in the same period. 

QR code-based payment system

 Now, the United States QR code usage has rapidly increased.

Statista report shows that, in the US alone, 11 million households scanned a QR code in 2020. There is significant growth from 9.76 million scans in 2018.

In another September 2020 survey by Statista, it found that 18.8 percent of consumers in the United States strongly agreed that they had noticed an increase in QR code use since the beginning of COVID-19 related shelter-in-place orders in March 2020.

Now, even we’re past the first quarter of 2021, there is an increased interest in QR codes. According to PYMNTS, 11 million households in the US are predicted to use QR codes this year to make payments. And half of the restaurants in the US now offer QR codes as well. 

Moreover, contactless payments including QR code-enabled payment methods have surged by 150 percent in the U.S since March 2019, which, in turn, boosted QR code adoption by 11 percent when the pandemic happens (PYMNTS).

Source: PYMNTS

In addition, the How We Shop Report says that more than one-third of consumers who prefer paying with QR codes say they won’t complete a purchase if that option isn’t available to them. The report found that consumers who prefer shopping with QR codes are among the most loyal users of all.

All this underscores that consumer expectations are shifting rapidly due to safety concerns and QR code is one of the best options used by merchants to keep up with this phenomenon.

Other countries such as Canada, Mexico, Brazil, and Venezuela are also integrating QR codes in their payment systems.

Related: Contactless payment ready: PayPal integrates QR Code as a payment method

QR Codes in Food packaging labels

QR code is also widely used in food labels and packaging in Canada. 

Statista report says that 57% scanned a food QR code to get specific information about the product.

This is followed by 43 percent of the Canadian consumers that said they have scanned a food QR code to visit the brand’s website

Source: Statista

Furthermore, 34% of the consumers scanned a QR code in food labels to get information about the product or company and to enter a contest. While 25% scanned the code to get a recipe and only 9% scanned it to play a game.

Source: Statista

The above graph shows the share of Canadian consumers using their mobile phones to scan barcodes or QR codes while shopping in a store and is broken down by gender. 

Statista’s survey shows that during the survey period, 16 percent of male respondents used their smartphones to scan QR codes to obtain information.

While only 10 percent of female respondents stated they used their smartphones to scan barcodes or QR codes to obtain more information.

To sum up, EY Canada says that the massive adoption of QR codes in Canada is one of the key tools in the economic recovery on the frontline of Canadian business.

Related: QR code stickers and labels and how to use them

QR Codes in Tourism Industry

Ecuador is using QR codes for various reasons. They use it to boost their tourism industry by attaching QR code stickers to one of its largest exports-bananas. 

The Ecuador Ministry of Tourism relies on the 24 million tons of bananas that it exports worldwide each year. 

“Each banana now contains a QR code on its sticker to encourage consumers to learn more about where their food comes from. When they scan the code, they are led through to a promotional video for the country, and then the Ministry of Tourism website,” according to Springwise.

Moreover, Ecuador is also using QR codes to register those who have been immunized against Covid-19 as well to monitor them. The QR code technology is also used to alert the citizens about the date on which the second dose of immunization is due. 

Lastly, businesses in Ecuador are also using QR codes for visitors to scan with their phones for touchless transactions in keeping with the covid-19 health and safety precautions.

A big factor of the continuous usage of QR codes in Ecuador is the increasing number of smartphone users in the country. According to a 2019 Statista report, 46 percent of the Ecuadorian population owned a smartphone, up from 6.2 percent in 2012.

Moreover in Costa Rica, QR code is also used to make wayfinding easy. For instance, the national and historic hospital San Juan de Dios in Costa Rica’s capital San Jose offers to its visitor's interactive wayfinding and information spots spread in key alleys and waiting rooms among the 36 maze-like hospital buildings.

The itinerary can be accessed by a guest by scanning a QR code on the screen

Other countries such as Jamaica, Belize, and the Dominican Republic are also using QR codes in their tourism industry as well. 

QR codes for administrative procedures

QR codes are used in El Salvador to simplify administrative procedures for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) who registered their businesses.

 The technology is used to verify the authenticity of the business online by simply scanning a QR code.

Uruguay has been using QR code technology for different purposes. The Uruguay government makes it mandatory for high street stores and restaurants to place QR stickers on their premises, detailing information about how they pay tax. 

Moreover, the government also mandates all businesses that the printed electronic invoice must include a digital certificate represented through a QR code with fiscal information that allows for the verification of the invoice.

QR code is also used for products such as meat, for verification of travel documents, and in airlines

Europe

QR codes weren’t also that popular in Europe. In a study conducted by Statista, it was recorded that only 5% of European consumers scanned a QR code while shopping. While only 9% of the German population had scanned a QR code. 

This percentage doubled by 2019. And this continued to increase in 2020. In a study conducted by MobileIron poll, over half of the respondents, or 54% noticed the increase of QR codes. The respondents are consumers across, Germany, U.K, Netherlands Spain, and France.

The same study also shows that 72% have scanned a QR code the month before the study was conducted. 67% of the respondents agreed that these codes make life easier while 58% favor its great use. 

These codes were also widely used in galleries and museums in Italy. Data shows that over 30% are providing QR codes while 40% are interested in providing one in the future. (Statista 2021)

QR codes for easy access digital driver's  license

Denmark now offers a digital license for its motorist. With this digital license, the motorist will no longer have to carry around their physical license. 

To be able to conveniently confirm the authenticity of the digital license, the digital license app has integrated a QR code feature.  With this feature, police will no longer have to hold the smartphone of the car owner to confirm the driver’s license. 

The only thing that the police need to do is scan the QR code with their designated QR code scanner app. 

QR codes as immigrant border pass

The QR code users have also increased in Ireland. The number of consumers that have scanned a QR code in the last quarter of 2019 was reported to be close to 1 million. 

It was also reported that the number of adults that were using QR codes doubled since January 2021. In fact, QR codes are already adopted and reached the mass market in Ireland.

With regards to the Covid 19 protocol, Ireland also developed a Covidpass using QR codes for immigrants. Before the immigrants pass the border they will have to fill an electronic questionnaire first with their basic information.

After filing the confirmation form the immigrant will then receive a QR code. The immigrant will then show this QR code to the border guard before crossing the border.  

QR codes to ensure the product quality 

To know the quality of the salmon, the Norwegian Seafood Association makes use of QR codes. The Norwegian Seafood Association partnered with the International Business Machines Corp. to gather the data supplied salmon. 

Information such as the salmon bred, where the salmon was the store and the shipping information will be accessed by just scanning the QR code. With this QR code, consumers will be able to ensure that the product is fresh. 

QR codes to have a safe voting system 

Estonia’s internet base voting system (i-Voting system) has also incorporated QR codes. To ensure that the voter’s votes were counted and to ensure that the vote was registered correctly  QR codes were generated. The QR code serves as the vote’s ID and shows the list of candidates that the voters vote for. 

Related: Court QR Code: Introducing QR code in the court system

Asia 

QR codes were first developed in Japan therefore it is expected that these codes are more popular in Asia than in the other parts of the world. The global QR code usage that was mentioned earlier showed that East Asia had the highest QR code usage with 15% in 2019. 

China is known as the leading country in QR code usage. Ever since they have developed a QR code payment method in 2011 they have been using this payment method in almost anything from renting portable chargers to paying for groceries. 

It was also recorded that the total of payment transactions made using QR codes in 2017 sums up to $ 550 billion. This grew 15 folds in three years and hit $1.5 trillion in the quarter of 2019. 

While the Japanese were already updating their phones and incorporated QR code scanners on their smartphone cameras and were already using these QR codes in their coupons since 2002.

Moreover, these QR codes are also popular in other Asian countries. There 40% of the Indian population uses QR codes, 27% of the Vietnamese, and 23% of Thai consumers. 

QR code-based payment system 

While most countries are still finding ways to introduce QR codes, China has already taken the lead.

All of it is attributed to WeChat which made the nation extremely obsessed with QR codes, resulting in a spike in QR code acceptance statistics.

WeChat opened a lot of avenues for QR code usage in the country and from there on, other apps rode along with the trend. Before they knew it, the country’s citizens already considered QR codes as part of daily life.

As a result, $1.65 trillion worth of transactions were done all through QR code payments in 2016 alone.

That value has significantly increased in succeeding years, especially since according to a 2019 survey, 50% of QR code scanners manage to regularly scan QR codes several times a week.

As a matter of fact, China ranks as the fastest growing country for mobile payments. Easily surpassing the United States along with the rest of the world. All thanks to the dawn of QR codes.

In 2018, although 74% were aware of QR code-based payment in Thailand, only 23% used these QR codes regularly in their payment transactions. This number increased after the pandemic and was recorded to reach 63% in May 2021. 

Which is above the global average of 56%. The majority of the respondents agreed that the QR code-based payment is much more sanitary and convenient compared to in-person payment.

Also, 15% of the population in the Philippines, South Korea, and Singapore are using QR codes as a payment method. 

QR codes in Tourism Industry

To help residents and visitors, Abu Dhabi had also integrated QR codes on signage for the tourist to travel easier around the emirate.

These QR codes have become the central part of their new addressing system.

Just like in Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi has also incorporated QR codes in its street signage and building number. But these QR codes provide more than the maps and street location, they also provide the historical background of the area.

Saudi Arabia has also implemented street signs using QR codes. In their signage, they incorporated QR codes that redirect the scanners to the exact location making it easier for visitors to find their way around.

Related: How to use a QR code in the tourism and travel industry?

QR codes in Education

For the students to be able to easily access and read various literature books, the libraries in Kazakhstan utilizes QR codes.

They display various book covers as well as it’s corresponding QR codes in a poster where students can easily choose and the QR code of the book they want to read with their phone or tablet.

 Additionally, the readers can also choose the language of preference whether in Kazakh, Russian, or English.

QR codes have also been used by Filipinos not just in payment transactions but in education as well.

Back when the Philippines still held face-to-face classes, a teacher used QR codes to create a paperless way to check attendance.

The teacher provided each of his students a digital or printed QR code. These codes are then scanned before his class begins. 

He then transfers the data of the QR code that he scanned into an Excel sheet.

Related: How to use QR codes in education?

QR codes in Agriculture

To reach a higher market and ensure the quality of their vegetables, a group of vegetable farmers is making use of QR codes.

 These QR codes provide the product information such as the product’s name, the origin of the product, product preservation, date of planting, date of harvest, and many more. The consumer can also find more information about the farm cooperative by just scanning these QR codes.

 But not only that these QR codes are helpful to the consumers but it also aids the decision making of the exporter by analyzing the data provided by the QR codes.

The data of the QR code such as the number of scans and the location where the QR code was scanned can be traced and recorded.

This data can be an important factor in marketing if used well. 

Related: How to set-up QR code tracking in real-time: A step-by-step guide in 2021!

QR codes to ensure the food quality

To make sure that the restaurants are serving halal food, The Institute for the study of Food, Drugs, and Cosmetics in Indonesia (LPPON MUI) incorporated QR codes in their food certificates.

 With these QR codes, customers can easily verify the authenticity of the halal certificate in restaurants.

By scanning these QR codes using mobile phones, the customers can easily check whether the restaurant that they are at is serving halal food. Thus, allowing them to enjoy their food without worrying. 

In 2018, the food and drug administration (FDA) in Myanmar had suggested utilizing QR codes to make ingredient verification convenient and easier.

With QR codes the product’s FDA approval can be easily obtained by just scanning the QR code with mobile phones.

The Myanmar FDA QR codes provide the product label, manufacturing company’s name, and address, contact numbers, manufacturing date, expiration date, serial number, and the FDA license number and certification number. 


Africa

QR codes for boosting app downloads

Image Source 

Jumia is placed as the number one online retail store in Uganda. On Jumia’s website,  they display a QR code where shoppers can scan the QR code to download their app right away. Upon scanning, this redirects their customers to download the app.

It both works for in Google Play Store and Apple App Store.

Moreover, Jumia even uses the QR code that redirects the scanners to a big discount sale!

Related: How to use App store QR code generator

QR codes for blended learning

Bubbles technology, first for South Africa, utilizes QR codes in textbooks to unlock and elevate richer learning for students

QR codes interspersed throughout textbooks integrates traditional learning with a mix of digital content bring textbooks to life and leverage student learning.

The QR codes that are printed on textbooks lead students to multimedia content that allows students to unlock richer learning and make the experience interactive that redirects the scanners to audio and visual snippets that complements the subject.

As the mobile penetration rate in Algeria stands at over 111% and with most students are having the access to these gadgets, schools in Algeria are also using QR codes for a blended and interactive learning approach.

Using QR codes that can redirect to any type of information, students use QR codes to send questions to their teachers, see the platform, ads, grades, listen to a podcast just by scanning the QR code using their mobile devices.

Related: How to create QR codes for books and bring textbooks to life!

 QR codes for an interactive print media 

Associated Media Publishing in South Africa,  which is the leading independent publisher of women’s media brands in the country, has launched its QR code print media campaign for its October issue last 2018.

The QR codes on magazines lead the readers to online shops, which allow them to shop and purchase products and merchandise featured in Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, House Keeping, and many others.

They can purchase the featured merchandise easily just by scanning the QR codes on print, providing a ready-to-shop portal.

QR codes on magazines leverage content consumers experience at a whole new level.

QR codes to monitor fog harvesting

Image source

In southwest Morocco, the water manager uses a tablet computer and QR codes to monitor the fog harvesting infrastructure.

QR codes in healthcare for digitizing doctor’s prescription

To curb down social interaction due to the COVID-19 pandemic disease, the Moroccan government urban agencies decided to come up with an initiative to generalize e-services last year of 2020.

Pandemic response measures include the issuance of online information services and conducting services to citizens done remotely and online.

Moroccan School of Engineering Sciences (EMSI) students have also developed and innovated a medical invention called Moroccan Electronic Perspective, an app that could help minimize the spread of the COVID-19 virus. This mobile application contains electronic/ digitized information of a doctor’s prescription for a certain patient.

The consulting doctor then sends the digitized prescription to any pharmacy. The patient identifies their pharmacy with a QR code and receives the medication, without any physical contact between patient and pharmacist.

Australia

QR codes for check-in at public places

Image Source

Businesses and other public locations in South Australia have placed QR codes on their windows and entry points before entering the premises.

People who visit the location need to check in first by scanning the QR code as a way of making it easier for South Australian Health to find where people have been in the event of a coronavirus outbreak and also to help businesses collect customer information.

Related: How to use QR codes for hotels and resorts?

QR codes in print magazine for an interactive print media

Scan the QR code to hear perspectives from our 2020 Emerging Leaders on how they see the industry shaping up in 2021.

Image Source: QR code cover in Adnews magazine

Adnews is a media, marketing, and technology industry in Australia.

With a mission to create awesome, innovative, and inspiring covers every month, Adnews decided to come up with their best concept of using QR codes in partnership with BMF, a creative agency.

“Toying with QR codes was one of the first things we jotted down. We liked the simplicity and the fact it could also have some utility beyond the cover. When we mentioned our ideas to other creatives around BMF it was their favorite thought as well”

“The QR code is one of the best comeback stories of the year. This incredibly naff technology that’s now become part of our daily lives, and has been absolutely crucial in the world opening up to us again. It’s undeniably uplifting, and for us, it signals that there’s hope for the future without being preachy or saccharine. We knew it would also give us the platform to bring to life a visually interesting and arresting front cover.”

Ad Agency told in an interview

QR codes for a fashion show

Image Source

What’s behind these ladies robes we will leave it to your imagination… and only until you scan the QR code you will know!

Klarna, Australia’s s shopping app, is redefining the meaning of a fashion show with QR codes!

Instead of wearing glamorous outfits, models in a fashion show in Australia walked down the runway with a robe while holding a QR code.

When the guests scan the QR code via the Klarna shopping app – socially distanced, of course, it will redirect scanners to reveal what is the outfit where scanners can purchase it right away.

QR code for a touchless menu

Image Source 

QR code menus replacing  physical menus

In Sydney, Australia QR code menus are already dispatching menu cardboards to comply with COVID-19 industry plans. Although QR codes are not a new concept, they surged during the COVID-19 pandemic.

QR codes have provided restaurants and café’s in Australia with a new way for a contactless ordering approach. From the traditional cardboard that gets a pass on to many diners, QR code menus are digitally accessible using smartphones and reveal the menu on the user’s smartphone device.

Continous growth of QR codes worldwide 

With every year, more organizations are starting to adopt QR codes to modernize how they do things, and for good reason. There is also a steady growth of an audience that is utilizing the use of the technology.

More people are integrating QR codes into their daily lives engaging in them more frequently and looking for products that are implementing them efficiently.

From 2018 to 2019, a total of 26% increase in interactions was observed. This translates to more unique people starting to engage in QR code activities.

Repeat engagement on the other hand showed an increase of 35%, suggesting that people are scanning a QR code not just once.

In terms of overall population reach, QR code statistics saw a growth of 28% in the same 2018 to 2019 time frame.

This shows the continuous and growing penetration of QR codes among customers, and the QR code popularity statistics are big enough to suggest further growth in the incoming years.

These numbers are telling of a trend: QR code statistics are not going down. If anything, it suggests a continuous exponential rise in growth in the incoming succeeding years.

Conclusion

With confidence, growth in QR code statistics are not just guesses but are actually expected to push through due to two main factors: increased access to mobile devices and high-speed internet.

These will ultimately further empower the appeal of QR codes in the modern market.  

According to a recent study by Juniper Research, 90% of the world’s population will have access to high-speed internet in 2021. 

That paired with more people having access to smartphones increases QR code acceptance statistics.

South Africa is just one of the regions in the world that are economically challenged but are set to have 80% of its population own a smartphone in 2021.

Topping the list of smartphone penetration in the United Kingdom with almost 83% of its population already owning one.

An additional factor in the growth of QR code usage statistics is the readiness of most mobile devices. Apple devices come integrated with QR code readers whether or not users have the intention of using it, resulting in an effortless transition.  

According to Apple, 92% of its devices are QR code-ready. This is after they introduced the QR code reading feature in the camera app ever since iOS 12. 

The QR code statistics surely don’t lie. The evidence backing up the growth and viability of QR codes in the coming years is inarguable. 

Without a doubt, QR codes are a worthwhile investment for the long haul in marketing and business. It is starting to become an integral part of everyday life for a lot of people, and as a business owner, to extensively benefit from this, you should be jumping into it as soon as possible.

If you have more questions about QR codes, please contact us now!