QR Codes as a Pathway to Mobile Payments


There has been a lot of talk about NFC and RFID for mobile payments. And some serious action too, with major phone manufacturers including NFC chips in their devices. However, many smart phone users, most notably iPhone owners, don’t have NFC capability. Cue the emergence of QR codes to bridge that gap.

Smart phones with cameras can scan all QR codes, as long as a bar code scanning app has been downloaded, which makes it a farther-reaching technology where mobile payment is concerned. Bank of America is running a pilot program to test bar codes at retail point-of-sale. For the three month test phase, Bank of America teamed up with Paydiant, a mobile wallet and mobile payment platform.

Five retail establishments in Charlotte, North Carolina will be testing the bar codes for Bank of America, headquartered in the same city. According to one of Paydient’s founders, a restaurant involved in the trial is printing QR codes onto customer receipts, allowing customers to pay at their discretion and then leave.

Adding QR codes to customer receipts is similar to a concept recently introduced by Split Bread, a gourmet sandwich shop in San Francisco. Each of the restaurant’s tabletops has a permanently attached metal strip printed with a QR code.

Customers can scan the code to view Split Bread’s digital menu, order and pay for their meal. When the food is ready, customers pick it up at the counter. In an interview with Mashable, Split Bread founder, David Silverglide, said the technology will make it easier to split checks and avoid lines. About thirty percent of the shop’s patrons currently use the QR codes.

Paying the tab at restaurants and retailers isn’t the only place payment is going mobileDoxo, a company that digitally manages bills and accounts, recently launched a Connect QR Code feature that gives businesses the option of printing a QR code onto bills they send out to customers. Tech-savvy customers can then scan the QR code and pay their bill online.

As TechCrunch points out, the real brilliance of this is that the QR code takes the payee directly to the payment site, which makes it worth launching the app to scan the code and then doing the scan. It removes the step of fumbling around on a service provider’s website searching for the payment page.

Increased QR code adoption will come if the QR code actually helps eliminate steps and simplifies transactions. It will be interesting to see, with the noticeable exclusion of NFC from Apple’s iPhone 5, if QR codes will truly bridge the gap in between plastic and wireless payments.

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