Qfuse Blog - QR Code, NFC, and Mobile Marketing News

Facebook Messenger QR Codes Link Up with MasterCard

Posted on March 18th, 2018 by

Mastercard is one of the largest credit card companies in the world and has announced that it will launch a Masterpass QR bot on Facebook Messenger in Nigeria, allowing the businesses in that country to set up digital money accounts to accept payments via QR codes. Masterpass QR will allow customers to accept or make purchases using their cell phones without needing cash or a physical credit card. To accomplish this initiative in Nigeria, Mastercard has partnered with Ecobank and Zenith Bank. “Every business owner is looking for ways to increase sales and draw new customers into their stores. By offering QR-based digital payments, smaller retailers can achieve these goals and create greater customer stickiness with little to no investment beyond the phone they already have,” said Jorn Lambert, executive vice president, Digital Channels and Regions, Mastercard. Masterpass QR opens up new channels of commerce for Nigeria’s businesses and enables them to create auditable transaction records, likely opening doors to other financial products such as loans to drive added growth.

For those interested in using this process, they just need to send a request to the Facebook bot to enable QR payments, receive approval from the bank, and set up an account. Once this is set up, business owners can begin accepting digital payments. Owners can print and display their specific QR code in their store enabling payments to be made by customers simply by scanning the code with their smartphone. Customers will also be able to pull up a QR code on their smartphone that can be scanned by the business. Once the QR code has been scanned, the online payment will be processed through the Mastercard network using M/Chip technology and the secure EMV infrastructure that retailers already have in place. The QR codes to be scanned will be governed under a common set of universal standards. Indeed, Mastercard worked with EMVCo to create standards designed to ensure consistency in the QR codes generated and captured on a consumer’s smartphone.

This latest development in payments via QR code has Mastercard enthusiastic as the company looks to advance the technology and expand its usage globally. “Today’s news builds on the momentum of our QR work in India and Africa,” said Ajay Bhalla, president of global enterprise risk and security for MasterCard. “We look forward to the adoption of the EMVCo global QR standards. In the meantime, we’ll continue to work with our customers and partners to make every device a secure way to pay and be paid.” Bhalla continued.

Currently, Mastercard is one of the four major credit card networks in the United States along with Visa, American Express, and Discover, and Mastercard and Visa have significant advantage in terms of acceptance worldwide. Mastercard had just under 32% of the number of cards in circulation at the end of 2016, and is said to have 25% of the total U.S. market share of purchase volume in 2017. With Mastercard and EMVCo pushing for adoption of their standards and payments technology on a global scale, it seems entirely possible that this sort of payment ability will soon may make its way to the United States. We patiently (and excitedly) await its arrival!

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Tech Medicine - Edible QR Codes

Posted on March 12th, 2018 by

Who’s hungry…for a QR Code? It’s been very intriguing to read about the newest technological advancement in medicine – edible QR Codes. Though it will not satisfy your hunger, the drugs via edible QR Codes will deliver necessary and tailored drug amounts to the individual eating the code. A recent study by researchers at the University of Copenhagen, along with colleagues from Abo Akademi University in Finland, have developed a white edible material with which they have successfully printed a QR Code consisting of a drug. Now, some of you may be envisioning something like Willy Wonka’s everlasting gobstopper machine from the 1971 classic, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, cranking out little bits of medicine on paper. But, in fact, the researchers actually adapted inkjet printing technology to print the edible QR Codes that contain a dose of medicine adjusted for the particular needs of the patient.

Wow. It’s one thing to just be able to print edible medicine. It’s an even further step to be able to print medicine as a QR Code. The technology is said to be very promising, because the medical drug can be dosed exactly the way patients need it to be. The perfect amount of one or more drugs can be incorporated into a single printed QR Code, thereby reducing the number of different pills a patient needs to take separately. This also eliminates the problem of a dose being rounded up or down to the nearest amount that is put in the typical pill. Edible QR Codes gives healthcare professionals an opportunity to tailor the medication specifically to the patient taking it. This new way to administer drugs enables doctors and patients alike to have a better understanding of the drugs ingested – the shape of the QR Code enables the storage of data about the drug in the drug itself, where a simple scan can bring up all pertinent information about the drug.

While the information and data provided by an edible QR Code will prove highly beneficial, there are some issues that will need to be addressed. First, the patients will need to have the ability to scan the QR Code. Luckily, most everyone today has a smart phone that is capable of reading such codes. Additionally, there is concern that the medicinal QR Codes may fade over time. While further research on light, temperature, and humidity resistance will need to take place, preliminary testing showed that printed codes exposed to humidity were still readable, as long as the codes were kept flat when printed and were not creased or wrinkled prior to scanning.

“Simply doing a quick scan, you can get all the information about the pharmaceutical product. In that sense it can potentially reduce cases of wrong medication and fake medicine,” said Natalja Genina, an assistant professor at the Department of Pharmacy at the University of Copenhagen. It is possible that this study could one day allow a regular printer to be able to apply the medical drug in the pattern of a QR code, while the edible material is produced in advance to allow on-demand production of medical drug near end-users.

“If we are successful with applying this production method to relatively simple printers, then it can enable the innovative production of personalized medicine and rethinking of the whole supply chain,” says professor Jukka Rantanen from the Department of Pharmacy. Fascinating development.

 

Resources:
https://www.techweez.com/2018/02/12/edible-qr-codes-medicine/
https://newatlas.com/edible-qr-code-medicine/53300/
https://futurism.com/future-medicine-eating-qr-code/
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/02/180202112641.htm
https://www.rdmag.com/article/2018/02/printable-edible-qr-code-offers-promise-personalized-medicine
Image: ddnews.gov.in
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Mobile Pay is Booming in China (QR Codes Utilized as Payment Links)

Posted on February 10th, 2018 by

Some of the biggest news to come out of China recently is that cash is no longer king. In fact, cold hard dollars and cents are effectively dead there. The Chinese have taken massive steps to live in the financial future by using mobile pay almost exclusively. And, at the crux of mobile pay, is the QR Code – scan the code, pay for your purchase, get on with your day. China and its love affair with mobile pay can be analyzed in four major touch-points:

1. In 2016, mobile payment volume in China doubled to $5 trillion, according to Hillhouse Capital’s Analysis data.
2. In mainland China, both service providers and stores have become increasingly mobile-pay centered around apps such as Alipay and WeChat Pay. In fact, WeChat Pay cornered 40 percent of the mobile payment market, and Alipay took more at 54 percent during one quarter according to an extensive financial study. Alipay is owned by an affiliate of Alibaba’s Ant Financial Services, and it boasts 520 million users on its international website.
3. Mobile pay has grown so fast in mainland China that foreigners can find it quite difficult to go about completing even the most basic transaction without it.
4. Mobile transactions’ dominance in China could also lead to better data collection by their government.

QR Codes Vs. Cash

At one time, when shopping or eating out with local friends, the Chinese consumers would ask a merchant if they accepted credit cards, while now they ask if they accept WeChat Pay or Alipay. Then, they pay simply with the scan of a QR code right at the table or a customer shows a code to a store clerk on their Smartphones. In fact, the Chinese often joke that a beggar would prefer a mobile pay donation to cash.

Spreading to Other Countries

The mobile pay habit that has taken over China has started to trickle in to some other countries. More than six million people from China went traveling abroad last fall for their national holiday called “Golden Week.” That travel – plus China’s change to using mobile payments and QR codes – ended up putting a certain amount of pressure on places like Hong Kong and Japan to start adopting mobile payment services, since they are popular destinations for Chinese tourists. In fact, the total number of stores that accept mobile payments is expected to double to approximately 45,000 stores this year, according to a report from Nikkei.

Major Progress

So, as mobile pay has completely changed the daily commerce in China, an entire society that was once limited only to using bills that were less than 100 Yuan denominations has now become one where QR payment codes are the norm. Since there is very little red tape in China coupled with a financial system that is much less developed, the Chinese have actually managed to surpass most developed world in the practice of readily accepting mobile payments.

300 Trillion Yuan by 2021

According to CLSA, a research investment company in Hong Kong, the volume of Chinese electronic payments could quadruple by the year 2021 all the way up to 300 trillion Yuan. In addition, according to Research, mobile payments in China rose to $5.5 trillion in 2016. That’s approximately 50 times the size of the $112 billion market in the U.S.
For the Chinese imports that the States have brought in over time, the writing is on the wall that mobile-pay, and those QR Codes associated, are only set to grab a larger hold on payment methods other time.

What This Means for Countries Outside of China

While countries such as the United States may not be going completely cashless or cardless in the very near future, the momentum toward a fully digital currency is inevitable. With this, QR codes will remain one of the most practical ways to facilitate such transactions. While it may not be a sexy new technology, QR Codes are reliable, platform independent, and ubiquitous worldwide.

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Apple Breathes New Life into QR Codes: Updated iPhones Support Native QR Code Reading

Posted on February 1st, 2018 by

2018 is set to be a huge year for the QR Code world as iPhones updated with iOS11 now fully support QR Code reading natively. For the first time ever, the camera app built in to your smartphone can quickly and easily (and we mean super easily), read QR Codes.

For those in marketing and advertising, this opens up a whole new landscape of possibility. No more having to install a third party app. No more issues with downloading. No more ads, no more dilemmas with readability, no more – in essence – slowing the rebirth of QR Codes!

As it’s the holiday season and you’ve been out and about shopping, you’ll see more and more products boasting their QR Codes. To get details on the specific product, all you’ll have to do is pull out your iOS11 equipped iPhone, open the Camera, and point it at the QR Code. From there, the screen will show a small box in the upper part of the screen with the QR Code type and the action to be performed. The camera will recognize a URL for the product, and the iPhone will suggests opening the product website in the browser.

Beyond your holiday shopping, there are a number of other ways that QR Codes, and this new utility that the iPhone camera presents, including:

– Apple now allows easily connecting to Wi-Fi networks directly through a QR Code.
– Adding a date to your calendar for 2018? With a calendar QR Code, users can encode an event to a QR Code that is added their iPhone’s calendar upon scanning.
– A QR Code with a message encoded can be sent as a SMS message.
– QR Codes with mobile deep links encoded can bring user right into an app.

Apple’s iOS11 built in camera utility is fully supportive of QR Code reading and it’s reliable, quick, and super easy (did we say that already?). No longer needing a third party app to read QR Codes will cause more and more businesses, brands, and marketers to utilize the QR Code. Simply put, the QR Code will take major steps towards being a viable marketing tool in 2018.

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Snapchat and the Resurgence of QR Codes

Posted on November 30th, 2017 by

With its 173 million users, Snapchat is certainly one of the most widely used apps. While the demographic is younger – it’s been predicted that by the end of this year, Snapchat will be bigger than both Facebook and Instagram in the US among 12 to 24-year-olds – the platform is seemingly everywhere. And, with attention like that, it means that businesses are working on how to utilize the platform to market themselves, boosting brand awareness and sales.

QR Codes, on the other hand, were a utility that seemed to fade – like a boxer on the ropes, down but not out. They were on ketchup bottles, real estate flyers, the walls of subway tiles – and all users had to do was point their camera, scan the black-and-white squares, and be redirected to a desired URL. The future in our hands. Except, you had to be sure your phone had a camera that could do QR scanning, download an app, maybe download another app, to finally read the code just to end up on the wrong website or a webpage not suited for mobile. The future, sure. QR Codes were simply ahead of their time.

Not only are QR Codes back and prevalent, but apps like Snapchat (and Facebook) are pushing the future of QR Codes. Sure, they may have different names – Snap Codes and Messenger Codes among others – but the technology and the way people can utilize it have caught up to what QR Codes were always meant to be.

Two years ago, when Snapcodes were rolled out, users were creating their own codes and adding friends using the platform. These were QR Codes in a different form, and with a different utility, from anything that had been seen before. The fact that Snapchat always opened up to its camera was inviting the use of these codes. Fast forward to today, and now using the codes users can unlock filters, get animated lenses, or even discover different channels and content groups with the app. And yes, the most recent development allows users to create a code that links to any website. When users scan the code, they are natively brought to the mobile page while remaining in Snapchat.

With this ease of use, and the potential advertising and marketing barriers being taken down, we are starting to see more businesses looking to start using Snapcodes in their marketing. And, now that Snapcodes have made it into the limelight, many are looking back on the previous renditions of QR Codes and now figuring on how they can be best put to use. Snapcodes got users accustomed to simply scanning with their phone, and since Snapchat’s scanning app supports QR codes along with Snapcodes, it means that anyone with Snapchat can effortlessly scan a QR code as well.

Using the platform in this way is giving businesses and brands a very powerful connection to an audience obsessed with Snapchat. Promoting their product or service through images – and QR Codes – instead of basic URL clicks is more substantial for branding and brand recognition. Leveraging QR Codes, businesses can:

– Easily create a B2C connection. Instead of ‘adding friends’, users could now check out a business, make an online search or purchase, and save or send web links.
– Have greater reach. Snapchat is storytelling with imagery, and with one click of a QR Code businesses could hold a conversation and further tell their story. Businesses like Starbucks and Whole Foods are using Snapchat as the portal for their advertising, allowing for special giveaways and features to be ‘unlocked’ when scanning their code.
– Collect payment in a seamless way. Much in the same vein as Apple Pay, users will be able to connect and pay for items with the simple scan of a code.

There is an entire greenfield in today’s world when it comes to utilizing Snapchat for QR Codes, and for as much growth and understanding as we’ve seen in the last year or so, there is still a ton of which is undeveloped and there is still a lot to learn. New technologies, best practices, and more efficient ways to utilize Snapchat for QR Codes in marketing a brand on the platform, are efforts that are only going to increase with time. This much is certain – QR Codes aren’t dead. They are very much alive.

 

References:
https://www.recode.net/2017/8/24/16198632/snapchat-instagram-teens-comscore-study-growth-users
https://www.wired.com/story/the-curious-comeback-of-the-dreaded-qr-code/
http://www.businessinsider.com/snapchat-expands-qr-code-reach-2017-2
http://mashable.com/2017/05/08/qr-codes-1app-snapchat-facebook/#yf.iO0BFM5qA
http://fortune.com/2016/05/13/snapchat-qr-code-reader/

 

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