Even after QR codes were invented in 1994, QR codes made a notably huge impact during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Private and business sectors, public sectors, and even the educational sector have utilized the touchless QR technology when the pandemic took off.
Not only that, these codes are rapidly becoming a go-to for marketing services and businesses alike due to their penetrative ability to connect to all age groups using only a smartphone device.
Last year, almost 11 million US households used a QR code, an increase of more than one million uses up from 2018 according to a recent survey conducted by Statista.
But how are these QR codes used elsewhere, particularly in Africa?
QR code-based payment system
Due to the vagaries of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ghana's central bank launched a universal QR code payment solution with HPS or (Hightech Payment Systems) just last year, making it the first African country to introduce a universal QR code system.
The QR code payment system has provided both customers and merchants the convenience and safety when making payment transactions by only scanning the QR code to send payments.
Using QR codes, citizens in Ghana can make payment transactions to merchants from multiple sources of funding like e-wallets, debit cards, or bank accounts.
Merchants can receive the amount of money instantly, either via static or dynamic QR codes.
The QR code-based payment used in Africa includes Zapper, Snapscan, Youtap, Needbank app, and First National Bank.
Zimbabwe, Kenya, Angola, and Lesotho
Cashless payments are also surging using QR codes in Africa. The Nedbank app is a QR code-based system that operates in African countries such as Zimbabwe, Kenya, Angola, and Lesotho.
The Nedbank app allows users to avail themselves of scan-to-pay services by simply installing its smartphone app.
It also collaborates with other payment system apps such as Zapper, Snapscan, Masterpass to make payment transactions via Nedbank App.
In 2018, QR codes began to gain traction in Egypt. Egypt's central bank integrated QR code-based system payment in the country to increase financial inclusion in Egypt.
With more than 60 percent of adults in Egypt having no access to electronic payments, QR codes are often viewed to boost financial inclusion in regions with heavy cash usage that does not have access to e-payment systems.
Egyptian National Payment Scheme for mobile wallets using QR codes has been welcomed and become convenient in electronic payments at any point of sale.
With that being said, Banque Misr is also one of the first banks to supply Mobile Wallet customers with QR codes in Egypt.
Just like any other country in Africa, Nigerian country is also gradually adapting QR code-based payment systems as a preferred choice for businesses in Nigeria as an affordable alternative to utilizing POS (point-of-sale) solutions.
Fintech companies such as Paystack and Flutterwave now offer merchants and service providers the use of QR codes to receive payments by generating and printing or sending the Quick Response codes to their customers even over on social media channels.
QR codes for boosting app downloads
It will redirect scanners to Apple App Store if they use an iPhone and Google Play Store for Android users.
In addition to that, Jumia also uses a QR code that redirects the scanners to big discounted items!
QR codes for blended learning
Bubbles technology is the first the South African country that use QR codes to give life to textbooks to enhance richer learning for students.
QR codes interspersed throughout textbooks integrates traditional learning with a mix of digital content, bring books to life, and leverage student learning.
The QR codes printed on textbooks lead students to multimedia content that enables students to unlock richer learning and make the experience interactive that redirects the scanners to audio and visual snippets that complement the subject.
As the mobile penetration rate in Algeria stands at over 111% and most students have 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, and grades, and listen to a podcast just by scanning the QR code using their smartphone gadgets.
QR codes in Africa for digital health pass
In March 2021 the Tunisia government required its passengers to fill out the online health declaration form before entering the country.
After completing the form, a QR code will be generated and sent to the person's email. They will then need to present this QR code to the airline before boarding and customs/immigration on their arrival.
A travel industry executive, Peter Vlitas, holding up the health passport app CommonPass as a travel pass requirement. United and other airlines are preparing to use the app to track and verify if passengers have negative COVID-19 results.
In the reopening of South Africa's international travel, the African government plans to adopt and join the bandwagon of the growing countries that accepts the International Air Transport Association's (IATA) mobile travel pass.
The IATA app is a digital solution that people can use to store COVID test results from accredited laboratories.
The International Air Transport Association said it aims to introduce further changes soon, including enabling QR code scanning by immigration officers upon arrival.
Moreover, the South African government recently also debated implementing digital health passes using QR codes.
After a series of global lockdowns, international travel is never the same again. The government of Kenya welcomes back its visitors with a new set of travel rules.
Before flying to Kenya, travelers must fill out the digital application form, the International Travelers Health Surveillance Form.
After processing, a QR code will then be sent to the passenger.
Travelers will be required to display the corresponding QR codes to port health officials to allow them to proceed to arrival immigration.
Associated Media Publishing in South Africa, the leading independent publisher of women's media brands in the country, has launched its QR code 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 easily purchase the featured merchandise by scanning the QR codes on print, providing a ready-to-shop portal.
QR codes on magazines and print mediums can leverage consumers' experience to the next level.
QR codes in Africa have been taking all over the place, especially in the print media industry!
QR codes in Africa to monitor fog harvesting
In southwest Morocco, the water manager uses a tablet computer and QR codes to monitor the fog harvesting infrastructure.
To curb social interaction due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Moroccan government urban agencies decided to come up with an initiative to generalize the e-service last year of 2020.
Pandemic response measures include issuing online information services and conducting services to citizens done remotely and online.
Students from the School of Engineering in Moroccan have developed and innovated a Moroccan Electronic Perspective medical invention. This app could help mitigate the deadly spread of the Coronavirus pandemic.
This mobile application contains electronic/ digitized information about 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 physical contact between the patient and pharmacist.
Morocco's one of the top tiers Telecommunications company, Orange, launched QR codes so customers could easily retrieve their top-up prepaid phone credit card code.
QR codes for event
During the great Ethiopian run event, which was an event exclusive to celebrate women and women empowerment, volunteers of the event wore sported t-shirts with QR Codes imprinted on them.
The QR codes imprinted on the shirts redirect to a Facebook page once scanned. The organizers of the event aim to grow the Facebook page's followers. Each t-shirt featured three QR Codes that redirects to different landing pages:
- The first QR Code redirects people to the organizer's Facebook page
- The second QR Code directs people to a page with photos of the events
- The third QR Code led to a page listing the winners of the race
Related: How to Use QR Codes for Your Event
QR codes for digital identifications cards
To improve humanitarian assistance in the remote and marginalized area of Babile, Ethiopia, QR code identification cards were given to 420 families in Babile that will identify them as recipients of cash and seeds donations.
Using these new identification cards with imprinted QR codes aims to help the International Committee of Red Cross in Ethiopia to record the citizen's real-time rations.
The ICRC or International Committee of Red Cross in Ethiopia has partnered with Red Rose, a web-based platform, to provide digitalized management of some of their humanitarian interventions.
The card contains personal identification information of an individual, as well as what humanitarian assistance one is entitled to.
The QR code technology tool in cards is a value-added solution that is an efficiency boost from the previous paper coupons which did not contain personal data.
The Document Registration and Authentication Agency (DARA) in Ethiopia introduces a QR verification system in its document authentication process to battle against forgery, fake documents, and illegal registration operations. Moreover, the initiative also aims to help the citizens from illegal actors.
“In the past, anyone who has a fake ID will try to get for instance power of attorney and may use forged documents and abuse and right and property of others without their knowledge, but the current QR code for instance will help organizations like banks to re-verify the document by their own,” Muluken Amare, Director General of DARA, said.
Digitizing all documents at DARA was launched last year. According to the head of the public institution, almost all of the documents of the year are recorded on a soft copy.
The original documents will be printed with a QR code in them that will be scanned using a smartphone device.