People Actually Use QR Codes (In China)

tumblr_mkub34LpYE1qey865o1_1280Mock the lowly QR code as you may.

But people actually use it. In China.

We already knew that QR codes were popular in Japan, but they never quite took off in Western markets. However, they are finding new life in the world’s biggest market as consumers scan codes to find friends on Tencent’s WeChat messaging app or follow accounts on Sina Weibo.

Today in Kleiner Perkins partner Mary Meeker’s always anticipated data dump, she had a few slides showing how QR codes are taking off in China.

The number of codes scanned per month is up by fourfold year-over-year in China as people are using them to pay for goods, exchange information or redeem promotions and coupons.

China is now seeing 9 million QR codes scanned every month up from two million per month a year before, according to a local QR code study Meeker cited.

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I myself witnessed such behavior in Beijing a few weeks ago. At first, I wanted to mock. But then after seeing QR code use in the wild several times, I stood corrected.

Meeker showed how QR codes are even being used by the U.K. embassy in Beijing. People can scan them to follow the U.K. government’s account on Sina Weibo, the microblogging platform that has 46 million daily active users in China. Or more bizarrely, one cemetery in Shenyang has even proposed using QR codes on gravestones to call up people’s obituaries.

QR code-focused startups like Israel’s Visualead have latched onto this trend by pushing more aggressively into Asia over Western markets.


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