QR codes in America and how QR codes are used in each country

Last updated:   January 17, 2022

There is a rapid growth in the usage of QR codes in America due to the shifting consumer demands, adherence to health regulations, and advancements in smartphones plus internet usage.

Each country in the US embraces QR code technology and applied it for various purposes. Some countries use QR codes as a payment option, to modernize cities, adapt to health protocols, and grow sales in enterprises.

Let’s find out how these countries both in North America and South America are using this two-dimensional barcode.

QR codes in America: QR code usage in North America

United States

The United States is one of the countries that adopted QR codes early on. Now, its usage 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.


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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 as at a growing number of hotels and airports.

Furthermore, 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).

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. This is due to safety concerns and QR code is one of the best options used by merchants to keep up with this phenomenon.

Mexico


Image: GSMA

In 2019, the number of mobile phone users in Mexico amounted to around 86.46 million, up from approximately 42 million users back in 2009.
In 2019, there were also over 80 million internet users in Mexico (Source, Statista). This translates that Mexicans are increasingly using QR codes in their everyday lives such as making payments.

According to a GSMA 2020 Study titled QR Code Merchant Payments, Mexico has an expected total annual QR code digital payment transaction growth rate of 18.8% from 2020-2024. 

This is attributed to the two largest QR retail payments- Mercado Pago and CoDi. 

CoDi, short for plataforma de Cobros Digitales, as it is known locally — in September 2019, rolled out a QR code solution for payment method with Banco de Mexico.

CoDi functions as a merchant-presented QR code. When the “customer rings up their items for purchase, the merchant’s point-of-sale system produces a QR code for the customer to scan with their mobile device.

This tells the customer’s mobile payment app or eWallet how much they’re being charged, and the customer’s device sends a payment for the total charge to the merchant.”

The initiative aims to have a promising greater efficiency, security, and an increase in financial inclusion. 

Canada


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Canada has a massive adoption of QR codes thanks to the increase of smartphones and access to high-speed internet. As reported by Statista, there are over 31 million smartphone users in Canada. 

Moreover, Canadian consumers now prefer contactless payment methods such as QR codes. 

According to Payments Canada, almost 36% of Canadians avoid shopping at places that do not accept contactless payments, while 50% of Canadian consumers limit their purchases to avoid exceeding the contactless limit.

On one hand, food labels and packaging in Canada also used QR code.

Statista report found that 57% of the consumers scan a food QR code to get specific information about the product. 

And 43 percent of the Canadian consumers said they scanned a food QR code to visit the brand’s website.

Moreover, 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.

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 America, particularly in Canada is one of the key tools in the economic recovery on the frontline of Canadian business.

Dominican Republic


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The Dominican Republic is also using QR codes for faster registrations of tourists once they enter the country- a great way to simplify inbound and outbound travels.

According to Globe News Wire, tourists have to access a digital form that needs to be filled out before or upon arrival to the country. 

Once completed, passengers will receive a QR code that will be scanned by the authorities at the port of entry or by the airlines at check-in during departure.

Furthermore, QR codes in America is expected to increase with the exponential growth of internet penetration and mobile connection in the Dominican Republic. 

Digital 2021 found that internet penetration in the country stood at 74.8% January 2021. 

It has increased by 80 thousand (+1.0%) between 2020 and 2021.

For the mobile connection, Digital 2021 reported that the number of mobile connections in the Dominican Republic in January 2021 was equivalent to 79.2% of the total population.

The number of mobile connections increased by 22 thousand (0.3%) between January 2020 and January 2021.

Costa Rica

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Costa Rica has been using QR codes for varied reasons. However, QR code usage in Costa Rica increased exponentially during the pandemic.

According to CNN, Costa Rica started to accept tourists in November. It also eased restrictions to drum up visitors. To expedite the tourist arrival process, Costa Rica utilizes QR codes.

They launched an electronic health pass that can be accessed via QR code. Once scanned, a tourist will access a form. 

The tourists will then fill out the contact information, passport, and flight information plus the policy number for the required travel insurance.

Moreover, 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 visitors 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.

Bahamas


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In the Bahamas, QR code is widely used to facilitate the cashless transaction. 

Just in 2020, MobileAssist, a Bahamian financial technology provider partnered with Super Value to enable shoppers to pay for groceries using QR codes.

At present, it has “created more than 130 virtual automated teller machines (ATMs) at the supermarket chain’s cash registers where its wallet users can pay for their shopping and get cash back,” according to MobileAssist.

Bahamas embraced QR codes with more than 90,000 downloads. It also has 7,500 registered users, of its app-to-date according to MobileAssist.

QR code usage in the Bahamas is more likely to grow with the recent initiative of The Central Bank of the Bahamas.

It introduces a digital version of the Bahamian dollar that uses QR codes to let users make payments and transfer funds using their smartphones. 

QR codes in the Bahamas make modern shopping quick and easy, and offers quality service to customers.

AML Foods Limited which teamed up with Kanoo will introduce QR code as a payment option in their stores.

Inbound travels in the Bahamas are also made easy and fast with the use of QR codes.

Foreign students who decided to be accepted to study in the Bahamas will receive a special QR code to show upon arrival. 

Honduras


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Honduras is not behind in terms of adopting QR code technology. QR code is used to speed up cross-border trading procedures in the country.

For instance, the Customs Union in Honduras uses a QR code to quickly certify—online—whether the buyer (importer) already paid the value-added tax on the goods in the destination country. 

Moreover, some businesses in Honduras use QR codes to boost the storytelling and transparency of their products. Fundraisers in Honduras are also using QR codes to facilitate donations.

As mobile penetration in Honduras continues to rise, it is expected that QR codes in America would continue to increase.

According to Data Report 2021 report, the number of mobile connections in Honduras in January 2021 was equivalent to 71.1% of the total population.

Panama

QR code is widely used in Panama as part of the new regulations when entering the country in line with the Covid-19 health protocols.

All visitors will have to fill out an electronic affidavit before entering the plane. Then once the form is filled out, they will receive an email with a QR code that the airport personnel can scan.

The Panama Ship Registry is also using QR codes to validate the authenticity of official documents submitted by seafarers.

QR code usage in Panama is predicted to grow with the growing digits of mobile connections which equates to 4.69 million mobile connections in Panama in January 2021.

Jamaica

Jamaica is using QR codes for several purposes.

They used the QR code technology to access testing records of tourists, to offer interactive content to children, and to provide a contactless menu in hotels and restaurants.

QR code usage in Jamaica is likely to increase with the growing number of mobile connections. 

According to Data Reportal 2021, there were 3.10 million mobile connections in Jamaica in January 2021. The number of mobile connections in Jamaica increased by 72 thousand (+2.4%) between January 2020 and January 2021.

This means that QR code is very accessible and user-friendly as there are more smartphone users in Jamaica.

El Salvador

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.

Another interesting QR code usage in El Salvador occurred in a village. As reported by Forbes, a small village in El Salvador is also using QR codes to receive their deposits as they adopt bitcoin as money.

Lastly, the QR code has been used in El Salvador not only for retail payment but also in other industries such as telecommunications.

Belize

Belize is using QR code technology to simplify the contact tracing method among travelers while they are in the country.

To ensure a safer dining experience, restaurants and the hospitality industry in Belize are using a touch-free QR code menu.

Moreover, the country is also using QR codes as payment methods

The main objective of the initiative is “to lead the financial inclusion strategy across Belize by proposing an easy to use and convenient solution for end-users and merchants to perform daily transactions.”

Guatemala

Guatemala is using QR codes to simplify entry requirements for travelers as the country reopens its borders to international travel. 

According to a Visa Study, Guatemala is still slowly transitioning to electronic payment systems such as using QR codes. 

Moreover, Guatemala is using QR codes for events as the need for contactless event registration rises.

Based on this data, we can see how QR codes in America, in particular in Guatemala, rises even more, when the pandemic happened. 

QR code usage in the United States: South America region

Argentina

Driven by regulatory changes and extensive smartphone usage, QR code usage has rapidly grown in Argentina.

Statista reports that in 2018, there is three percent of adults in Argentina used QR code payments. This share is forecast to increase to 24 percent by 2022.

Meanwhile, the value of QR code transactions in Latin America was projected to surpass 1.4 billion U.S. dollars by that same year.

This is attributed to the central bank’s moves to drive innovation in mobile payments.

According to iuapana, two networks dominate QR code payments in Argentina: Mercado Pago, and TodoPago.

For Mercado Pago alone, it processed 8.2 million QR code transactions in the first 12 months of operation and recorded a total of 3 million QR code users in March 2019. 

Moreover, it has more than 300,000 merchants that use the system.

Todo Pago is another key player in Argentina’s QR code market.

 It has a million and a half buyers and 600,000 merchants signed up. It has tripled its app downloads in 2018 because of its QR code push. Now, it continually grows its QR code usage.

Brazil

QR code is also widely used in Brazil. It serves as a payment method for many customers due to its simplistic and instant payment solution. 

As reported by PR Newswire, PIX as one the most relevant payment solutions in Brazil include QR code in their system. 

They considered it as the best digital solution for its customers in a market of more than 200 million people. It is expected the current 134 million user accounts increase as more Brazilians continue to use QR codes.

In support of this claim, PIX reports that it has grown exponentially in only a few months in operation, processing over 320 million transactions only in March 2021.

Furthermore, QR code is also by other industries. According to SIG technology, the partner of Languiru in their QR code campaign, QR code is popular in Brazilian with more than 12,000 codes generated every hour.

Languiru’s consumer report found that 94 percent of participants were android phone users and just 6 percent Apple users with 71 percent of those using the code women, including 56 percent in the 19-30 age group and 35 percent in the 31-60 age group.

Thus, the majority of the population in Brazil uses the android system, which is mainly used to scan QR codes.

Chile

Although some parts of Chile have slow network speeds and other consumers have a strong preference for cash, card, and internet banking, QR code usage is gradually increasing.

Chilean digital transformation company VeriTran brought mobile payments to more than 36 banks and over 14 million users. 

Veritran created a mobile banking app called PagoRUT for Chilean state lender BancoEstado, which enables account holders to transfer money through a QR code or numerical code.

Roberto Valderrama, Commercial Director of VeriTran, told BNamericas: “QR codes. That’s the direction the market is heading in,” citing their security, convenience, and speed. 

 The fact VeriTran is opening three new offices in the US demonstrates the success of the Latin American mobile payments market, as well as the level of innovation in the industry.

Regional eCommerce giant MercadoLibre and coffee shop chain Starbucks also offer QR solutions. 

Users of MercadoLibre’s MercadoPago digital wallet can scan static QR codes displayed at the checkouts of participating merchants to make payments. 

Meanwhile, Starbucks offers customers a digital wallet with an associated physical card. Users can load money into the wallet and use their mobile phone to buy their lattes via QR code, or use their wallet-linked payment card.

Peru

QR code is predominantly used in Peru as a payment method. According to experts, this new payment method “was born as a way to democratize the means of payment in a country where 40% of the people are banked and 70% own a smartphone.”

To further democratize the financial services in Peru, BBVA Continental presented the incorporation of the QR code reader in Lukita

Lukita is a tool located within the bank’s mobile banking that allows money to be transferred from cell to cell phone and, now, make payments with QR codes”, the bank informed on their website.

Latin American Business Stories also reported that “Peruvian Central Bank (Banco Central de Reserva del Perúallowed nine digital payment provider companies to operate with QR Code payments in the country.”

QR code usage surges as Peruvians can make payments with QR Code in brick-and-mortar stores. It will continue to increase as there are more smartphone users and mobile internet users in Peru. 

As reported by Statista in 2019, approximately 78 percent of Peruvian households owned a smartphone. This represents an increase of nearly five percentage points compared to 2018.

Moreover, Statista found that in 2019, approximately 88.3 percent of Peruvians surveyed stated to use mobile internet daily. 

In addition, that year, respondents between 18 and 29 years old represented the second largest age group in terms of internet usage in the South American country.

Venezuela

Venezuela largely utilized QR codes as a payment method. One of the big players in the Venezuelan market is the MercadoPage system that also incorporates QR codes. 

Just recently amid the pandemic,MercadoPago has seen its total transactions double, with e-commerce purchases from the main MercadoLibre platform accounting for just 35% of payments as Latin Americans increasingly incorporate digital payments into other portions of their daily lives.

Latin America which includes Venezuela is expected to see a compound annual growth rate of 17.3% in digital payment transactions.

The projection is from 2020 through 2024, when total transaction volume will reach approximately $204 billion, according to projections from Statista.

Moreover, the Mastercard New Payments Index report revealed that 66% of respondents in Latin America including Venezuela expect to use more payment technologies like QR in 2022.

Ecuador

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.

Furthermore, 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.

Bolivia

Having 11.48 million mobile connections in 2020, Bolivia is slowly adopting QR codes in their day to day transactions.

For instance, Bolivian banks, businesses, and citizens are using QR codes to transfer funds between bank accounts. The interoperable payment solution is made possible by the Simple platform.

Likewise, private banks in Bolivia use QR codes as a payment and collection system

Uruguay

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

Paraguay

Just in 2020, Paraguay used QR code technology to improve digital payment services in the country, facilitate contactless payments, and promote financial inclusion. 

Most banks in Paraguay and more than 2, 500 businesses in the country use QR codes. The transition becomes easier for the customer as most banking apps and banks already offer QR code payments.

In the retail space, businesses in Paraguay are also using QR codes. The country’s industry and commerce ministry forged an agreement with the payment acquiring firm, Bankard to simplify digital payments via QR code. 

QR code is also used by Paraguay’s tourism industry to expedite inbound travels amid the pandemic.

All these underpin the prediction that QR code usage in Paraguay is expected to grow due to the increasing demand for safer transactions. 

Colombia

QR code is widely adopted in Colombia as means to make electronic payments.

The QR code usage in Colombia is predicted to increase with the standardization from the Colombian Finance Authority. 

The government aims to promote alternative ways to make electronic payments, reduce the use of cash, and strengthen financial inclusion.

Moreover, a QR code is also used in Colombia to track and confirm vaccinated citizens and patients. QR code in Colombia also functions as provide mobility passport.

Aruba


QR code is widely utilized in Aruba for contact tracing when the pandemic happened.

The technology is also used in the country to allow visitors or tourists to share their COVID health status privately and securely on their mobile devices.  

Furthermore, many restaurants in Aruba are also digitizing their menu using QR codes as health and safety become a primary concern of the customers. 

Apart from that, Aruba also uses QR code for efficient asset tracking.

With the varied uses of QR codes in Aruba, it is expected that QR code usage will continue to soar.

Why are QR codes not popular in the US before the pandemic?

Before the pandemic, US consumers do not have high usage of QR codes. A study done by Comscore found that U.S. consumers’ use of QR codes for purchases declined between 2018 and 2020.

In the early 2010s, mobile phones do not have a built-in QR code scanner yet until 2017 with Apple’s iOS 11 update, which enabled people to scan QR codes using the phone camera.

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The hesitancy of consumers to scan a code led to less adoption of the technology at that time. 

When Covid-19 hits, QR codes in America began to surge by 11%. Restaurants are displaying menu QR codes instead of using physical menus. 

Schools and universities are using QR code technology for health checks. In education, many teachers consistently have found QR codes useful for sharing activities and links with their students.

Vaccine sites are using it for appointment sign-ins and tracking of vaccinated persons.

And businesses –small or large –use the technology for varied purposes such as a solution to operational procedures or marketing.

Related: QR code statistics 2022: Latest numbers and use-cases on global usage

Factors driving the growth of usage of QR codes in America

The popularity of QR codes in America grows rapidly with the updates of mobile phones, the growth of smartphone users, and internet usage. 

More smartphone brands updated their features like having a built-in QR code scanner. For example, iPhone’s iOS 11 updated in 2017 and enabled people to scan QR codes using their phone cameras.

Moreover, 97% of Americans across a wide range of demographic groups now own smartphones. This translates to wider adoption of QR code as it becomes more accessible to mobile users.

Then internet usage also increased in the US. Statista reports that there are 269.5 million mobile internet users in the US, which represents over 90 percent of all active internet users nationwide.

Likewise, consumers are becoming warier to health and safety and opting to use QR codes as a contactless method to access information.

The future of QR codes in America

With the continued usage of QR codes in America across various industries, it is expected that more innovations will happen.

The data above entails a foreseeable future of wider adoption of QR codes not only in America but in other regions. 

The retail industry, payment merchants, education, and marketers contribute to the exponential growth of QR codes in America.

Using the best QR code generator online like QRTiger helps the various industries in giving their customers engaging marketing strategies.

It also helps them streamline operational processes and allows them to track the number of scans.

QR code is a game-changing tool you should use to increase your customer base and engage your target audience. If you need more information about QR codes, feel free to contact us. 

Related: QR codes in Africa and their various use-cases

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