We’ve talked a lot about the rise of QR codes in Asia, but they may now finally be moving from being a “joke” to being more widely adopted in other places as well. Simply put, QR codes let you hyperlink and bookmark the physical world. Just as UPC barcodes allow machine-readable scanning of data (e.g., price) on items in stores, QR codes are a barcode-like vector between online and offline information. And unlike NFC (near-field communication), which is used for reading smart cards, keycards, and contactless payments, QR codes can be easily accessed by any phone in the world that has a camera. They enable everything from online to offline (O2O) marketplaces, which are huge in China, to augmented reality.

Some of the more obvious use cases for them include things like adding a WeChat friend in real life (IRL); subscribing to a WeChat official account (often representing media, stores, people, and others); paying a street vendor or at a convenience store; connecting to wi-fi in a shop; getting additional content from a magazine article; and learning more about styling or the brand from a clothing label. But there are also a number of less-obvious (or not as well covered) uses in China, which [Connie shares in her full article], because they show the range of what’s possible everywhere when QR codes disintermediate existing use cases… and enable new ones.

This article was originally written by Connie Chan on August 11, 2017 and shared via a16z.com

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