QR code usage statistics 2022: 443% scan increase and 438% generation boost

Last updated:   November 03, 2022

They’ve been hailed in parts of the globe as “the comeback kid,” those matrix barcodes that, when scanned with a smartphone camera or handheld scanner, take the user to virtually any place online.

QR codes date back to 1994, but they gained prominence in 2020 as the globe switched to a contactless lifestyle as a preventive measure against COVID-19.

There was a significant boost in the QR code usage statistics during this period, as the world discovered the potential of QR codes in streamlining daily transactions and promotion.

And now, two years since lockdowns have been imposed, one question remains: are QR codes still popular these days?

The QR code usage statistics for 2022’s first quarter show that they still are. 

QR code usage statistics

QR code scans quadrupled in 2022

Long story short: QR codes continue to grow in popularity even as the world gradually transitions to a new normal.

The flexible nature of QR technology has led to many innovations that streamlined daily transactions, which is why enterprises now use them to upgrade their services.

Benjamin Claeys, QRTIGER founder and CEO, believes that the pandemic may have accelerated QR code growth, but it’s not the sole reason for the popularity it’s currently enjoying.

“I do believe QR codes always had a great potential,” Claeys says. “People now see how beneficial and versatile QR codes are, and they actually start to use them.”

For example, restaurants now opt for an interactive restaurant menu QR code software to replace physical menus for their diners’ health and convenience.

Merchants and stores use cashless payment options through QR codes.

On top of that, QR codes today have grown wider in functionality, as they are now useful and effective in marketing campaigns.

As of 2022, there are about 6.64 billion smartphone users in the world, with 5.32 billion 'unique' users.

A June 2021 survey in the US by Statista revealed that 59% of respondents believe QR codes will become a permanent part of their smartphone usage in the future.

Global QR code usage statistics in 2022

Dynamic QR codes generated by users accumulated a total of 6,825,842 scans from global users—a 433% increase over 2021 figures.

Based on QRTIGER’s database, here are the top 10 countries with the highest scanning activity for the first quarter of 2022:

  1. United States – 42.2%
  2. India – 16.1%
  3. France – 6.4%
  4. United Kingdom – 3.6%
  5. Canada – 3.6%
  6. Saudi Arabia – 3.0%
  7. Colombia – 3.0%
  8. Malaysia – 2.1%
  9. Singapore – 1.7%
  10. Mexico – 1.6%

Only four Asian countries made it to the top 10. This may make it appear as though Asia lags behind when it comes to QR code usage.

Claeys, however, clarifies: “We can see that most of our customers come from the United States, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re not used in other countries.”

“I think there are many other countries where QR codes are used a lot. They might use a lot of static QR codes instead of dynamic ones. I do believe QR codes are definitely happening everywhere right now.”

The United States leads the countries worldwide in QR code usage, with a total of 2,880,960 scans.

This number is quite promising, considering that 75.8 million smartphone users in the US scanned a QR code in 2021, as shown by a Statista report.

“The United States is one of the leading countries regarding dynamic QR codes because they’re more market-driven,” says Claeys.

The US saw a switch from physical or paper menus to digital menus powered by QR codes.

In a National Restaurant Association 2022 report, 58% of adults surveyed say they are more likely to access a menu QR code on their phones.

TouchBistro’s annual report reveals that seven in ten restaurants opt to implement mobile payment and QR codes.

India places second, with a total of 1,101,723 scans from users.

This is no surprise since 40% of the Indian population uses QR codes.

The country has adopted the use of QR codes on train tickets and even launched BharatQR, a QR code-based payment solution for digital person-to-merchant payments.

The Economic Times also revealed in an article that QR codes are present almost everywhere in India, from textile industries and restaurants to non-profit organizations.


The most popular QR code solutions

Based on QRTIGER’s database, here are the 10 most widely used QR code solutions:

  1. URL – 46.3%
  2. File – 31.4%
  3. vCard – 7.1%
  4. Social media – 3.7%
  5. HTML – 2.8%
  6. Mp3 – 2.5%
  7. Menu – 2.2%
  8. YouTube – 1.1%
  9. Appstore – 1.0%
  10. Facebook – 0.7%

From the QR code usage statistics shown, forty-six percent of the total dynamic QR codes created for the first quarter of 2022 are URL QR codes, which only makes sense since QR codes are primarily used for redirecting users to web links.

File QR codes come in second place with 31%, followed by the vCard (digital business card) QR solution at 7%.

The remaining two percent consists of the following QR code solutions:

  • Instagram
  • Multi-URL
  • Bulk
  • Text
  • Pinterest

Multi-URL

Multi-URL QR codes are among the most unique solutions. Through this technology, a user is routed to different links depending on particular parameters such as:

  • Location
  • Number of scans
  • Time
  • Language

Claeys remains steadfast in multi-URL QR codes’ potential. “We recently helped VeeFriends, an NFT project by Gary Vaynerchuk,” he shares.

“They needed a multi-URL QR code solution that would generate another link every time a user scans it.”

“I do believe that our multi-URL QR code would become more and more popular, together with the advanced features of our dynamic QR codes,” Claeys adds.

How QR codes are used

QR code use cases

Ever since the pandemic, QR codes have become more functional and are now used for a variety of purposes across several industries. Here are some of them:

1. Payments

Establishments and retailers have adopted the use of QR codes for payments to make transactions cashless and contactless.

Furthermore, digital wallet apps today allow users to connect their bank accounts.

These apps come with a scan-to-pay feature, providing users with a quick and seamless payment method.

A new study by Juniper Research reveals that global spending through QR code payments will reach over $3 trillion by 2025, up by $2.4 trillion in 2022.

The 25% increase will be fueled by the rising focus on promoting financial inclusion in developing countries and innovating alternative payment methods in developed regions.

2. Restaurants

Many restaurants switched to menu QR codes after the pandemic for a contactless dining experience.

In an article by CNBC, restaurant tech experts believe that QR codes can open more innovations to improve services delivered by restaurants, such as using a QR code for placing orders.

Square’s report on Future of Restaurants also reveals that 88% of restaurants considered switching to digital menus.

Meanwhile, Hospitality Tech’s report on restaurant technology shows that 92% of restaurants have used QR codes as an alternative to physical menus.

Claeys, who also recently launched digital menu software MENU TIGER, shares: “We’ve already seen several countries that have interactive menus where people can actually click on items, order them, pay them, and get them delivered to their table.”

“This was the solution that was laying there, and we needed to enter that space because many customers had already come to us for that solution.”

“We took a step further and actually made an interactive menu QR code system that can be linked to a point of sales system and everything else that they have within their restaurant,” he continues.

3. Hotels

As hotels reopen, they have started to use QR codes to leverage their services.

Most hotels now have QR codes for check-ins and room reservations, customer feedback, and advertisements.

They can also create a Wi-Fi QR code so that their guests would no longer have to type in long and complicated passwords to gain internet access.

4. Healthcare

The healthcare sector opted for QR codes during the height of the COVID-19 infection. QR codes became tools for speeding up the contact tracing process.

Establishments also used QR codes for health declaration forms and questionnaires that customers must fill in before they can enter.

Now, QR codes are used on vaccination cards as a security and authentication feature.

5. Product packaging

Product manufacturers now incorporate QR codes in their packaging and labels to route their consumers to relevant details, such as nutritional content and precautions for allergic reactions.

For DIY products, appliances, and gadgets, a QR code can contain instructional videos and product manuals. With one scan, consumers will have access to these guides on their smartphones.

Managements can also set up a QR code that allows clients to easily set an appointment.

6. Product authentication

You can use QR codes to store product details and features that will prove its authenticity. Many brands have adopted QR codes to combat the alarming rise of counterfeit goods on the market.

7. Inventory management

QR codes on products can speed up and ease inventory management.

The great thing about QR codes is that you only need a smartphone to scan them, and this saves you from buying bulky scanners for barcodes.

8. Business cards

QR codes leverage business cards by adding a digital aspect to the plain printed card. As you hand out business cards to people, they can simply scan the code to see more of your details and credentials.

9. Workplaces

Office spaces now make use of QR codes for a seamless recording of attendance, quick employee identification, and convenient file sharing.

10. Education

QR codes became extremely helpful in the education sector upon the shift to distance learning and online classes to keep both students and teachers safe.

Now that schools are open, these tech tools remain beneficial in various ways: from access to learning materials to classroom management.

QR codes in the news

QR codes news

The first quarter of 2022 saw QR codes make the headlines on numerous occasions.

“It’s a growing market and I think that it has a huge potential. In the near future, I believe it will be mainstream in any country,” Claeys notes.

Here are some of the most noteworthy QR code campaigns and applications so far:

1. When the UCF football team put QR codes on their jerseys

The University of Central Florida (UCF) football team wowed audiences as they entered the arena with QR codes on the back of their jerseys during the Spring Game held on 16th April 2022.

UCF football coach Gus Malzahn gave fans a demonstration through a Twitter video: when scanned, fans will see the player’s bio pages, social media handles, and branded merchandise.

2. ‘Moon Knight’ TV series gives fans an Easter Egg

The newest Marvel series which premiered on Disney+ on the 30th of March gave fans an awesome freebie. In one of the scenes in Moon Knight’s first episode, viewers saw a QR code.

While most thought it was only a prop, some fans scanned the code. To their surprise, they found a digital copy of the comic Werewolf By Night #32 which they can read for free.

3. ‘Halo’ drone QR code 

During the South by Southwest (SXSW) Festival held in Austin, Texas, 400 drones formed a gigantic QR code in the dusk sky to promote the upcoming Paramount+ original sci-fi series Halo.

People who scanned the code saw a trailer of the series on their smartphones, leaving them intrigued and interested in the new series.

4. Super Bowl 2022 ads

The 56th NFL Super Bowl was filled with iconic and influential QR code commercials.

One example is Coinbase’s 60-second ad featuring a QR code floating on a blank screen, which is reminiscent of the iconic DVD screensaver back in the 90s.

Home viewers who scanned the code landed on Coinbase’s time-limited promo: new users will get $15 worth of Bitcoin for free, and customers can participate in a $3 million giveaway.

The website saw a multitude of visitors in a short span of time which led to a crash.

How long will QR codes stay relevant?

The QR code usage statistics is a proof of the popularity of QR codes today, even though it has been two years since the pandemic.

They prove to be useful in streamlining daily transactions. They also offer a great opportunity for offline to online campaigns.

Claeys sees that this trend will keep growing. “I believe it’s the goal of marketers to connect their target audience with their advertising,” he says.

“They would then have to make their QR codes engaging enough for people to actually look and scan them, and I think there’s a lot of opportunities within that space.”


The future of QR codes

Insider Intelligence found in a June 2021 survey that 75% of their respondents show a willingness to use more QR codes in the future. This can contribute to an increase in QR code usage statistics in the future.

Claeys believes that the popularity of QR codes will remain. “QR codes will be everywhere; they are a trend that will not stop anytime soon,” he adds.

He also suggests that more companies use QR codes. “They are a low-energy tool. You can just print one and paste it somewhere strategic. They are also cost-effective.”

“In addition, the number of leads you can generate through it is huge, if you use them wisely. It is important to put a call to action under your QR code to get more scans.”

The QRTIGER CEO also sees new industries entering the space of QR codes, such as NFTs. “QR codes and NFTs seem to be a great match; a lovely marriage.”

“I also see more use-cases for QR codes in 2022 and the coming years. I think the QR code is the bridge today between the offline world and the mobile phone,” Claeys concludes.

brands using qr codes