QR codes: you win some, and you lose some

QR codes have now become a part of our daily lives. I feel like I’m personally “checking in” every other moment I leave the house.

The win from this: everyone now knows how to scan and use and QR code. QR codes have been around for many years, and we’ve had clients use them occasionally, but nothing consistent. They are great for using on a poster or brochure to direct people to more information, especially if it’s to go to a webpage with a long URL that would otherwise need to be typed. We’ve also seen them used to direct people to book tickets for events. But they suffered a low uptake, as many people didn’t know how to use a QR code so they just sat on printed material with little purpose.

Then the pandemic hit us, and QR codes became all the rage – but with a new purpose: checking into shops, venues and other public spaces. Using QR codes was thrust upon everyone, of all ages, in a short matter of time. So we learnt how to use them quickly, which you would think now means businesses can benefit from them now…

Instead, we’ve seen new issues arise: data collection and privacy. Where QR codes were previously used to help direct a consumer to more information, now the fear held by an increasing amount of people is by using a QR code, their privacy will be breached. There is a consistent link in our daily lives to QR codes collecting data about us thanks to checking in, so this hangs in our minds each time we use a QR code – even if that’s not the intent by the business.

It’s been a really strange to watch the boom of an accessible technology, only to see it backfire in a lack of trust.