Scan Makes A QR Identity Play

Scan, a company that’s trying to link physical businesses to users with QR codes, is stepping into the identity and payments space.

The new version of Scan’s app adds a ‘Code Wallet’ that can be used to store codes you scan or use a lot. It can also store your personal identity code, which you can generate on the device.

In fact, every user of Scan, over 75 million of them so far, will have a personal QR code available to them once they’ve updated the app. This code effectively acts as an identity that they can use to direct people to social media profiles, Instagram accounts, personal webpages and more.

Scan founder Garrett Gee says that this should lower the barrier for people who may have never understood that they could use QR codes to create an easily transferrable identity before.

And incorporating the scan-to-pay technology they debuted late last year, users will be able to offer that code to others to accept payments directly. Friend owe you a couple of bucks? Just have them scan your code and shoot you the money.

As an example, here’s the Scan page of Serena Martineau, a freelance photographer using Scan to promote her business and accept payments directly. Screen Shot 2014-07-02 at 9.13.38 AM

Scan has raised a total of $15.2 million from Entree, Menlo Ventures, Google Ventures, Charles River Ventures, Start Fund, Social + Capital Partnership, Transmedia Capital, Ludlow Ventures and angels Ariel Poler, Naval Ravikant of AngelList, Jim Pallotta of Raptor Group and Troy Carter.

Scan is still one of the most popular code readers in the App Store, and sees around 50,000 new installs a day. Scan introduced its business pages in 2012 and now sees 150,000 of them using its website to create and manage codes. There are around 80,000 codes used on the site daily. Though Scan also reads barcodes for price checking, Gee recently told me that around 65 percent of the scans on iOS devices were of QR codes.

Each of those codes is linked to an action of some sort, which is really at the heart of what Scan has been bringing to the table. There have been countless misuses of QR code technology, but some of the most egregious mistakes have resided in not giving people a discrete action to take upon scanning.

If you scan a code and are dumped out onto a website with no focused purpose, you’ve already been failed by the creator of that code. By creating a framework for businesses, and now individuals, to deliver users to a focused experience, Scan is putting QR tech’s best foot forward.

Scan has its work cut out for it if it wants to be an identity provider of any sort. But it’s a space that’s ripe for innovation, so I’m interested to see how this pans out. Digital identity is one of the biggest unsolved issues we have and I expect that pretty much all of the majors will make a play for the space very soon. Dabbling in trying to figure that out — and pushing forward its philosophy of linking digital and physical spaces — seems like a good direction for Scan.


Ironically, one of the best things that could happen to a company like Scan is for someone like Apple to include code-reading functionality in the stock camera. Being Sherlocked could actually boost Scan’s business enormously. Scan’s secret sauce, after all, is in how it handles the actions after scan, not necessarily the scan itself.

Of course, there are other opportunities here, given the proliferation of beacons driving hyper-local, contextually accurate interactions. Gee says that Scan is working with beacon technology but doesn’t have anything to share at the moment.

And, it’s important to note, beacons don’t have the years of misuse behind them that have contributed to making QR codes such a technological punchline.

The app is available for both iOS and Android here.