The QR code was introduced a few years back and allows mobile devices to scan a 2 dimensional bar-code which then links the device to images, websites, pass codes and other online content. Since their inception, QR codes have seen limited use and never really became mainstream in the west. Curiously, they have however seen a lot of success in Asia. QR codes have been popular in Japan for a while now, and it seems they are beginning to migrate across the Sea of Japan to the world’s largest market; China. Currently, QR codes are being implemented for a wide variety of functions you’d never see in the west, such as to find friends in Tencent’s WeChat messenger or to follow people on Sina Weibo.
Mary Meeker discussed the QR code today at the AllthingsD D11 conference, where she revealed that the number of scanned QR codes is rising four-fold every year. In China, the codes are being used to pay for products, redeem coupons and, as stated above, for social networking and exchanging information. Even the British Embassy in Beijing makes use of a QR code on their front gate, and a ShenYang cemetery has proposed using QR codes in headstones to allow visitors to call up the deceased’s obituary. Meeker cited a study which found that China scans 9 million QR codes every month, up from 2 million last year.
Obviously, when China takes an interest to something, there’s money to be made. Following that logic, QR-code based companies such as Israeli Visualead, are pushing hard for the Chinese market, rather than attempting to cater to western customers.