QR code (abbreviated from Quick Response Code) is the trademark for a type of matrix barcode (or two-dimensional barcode) first designed for the automotive industry in Japan. A barcode is a machine-readable optical label that contains information about the item to which it is attached. A QR code uses four standardized encoding modes (numeric, alphanumeric, byte/binary, and kanji) to efficiently store data; extensions may also be used.

The Quick Response (QR code) system became popular outside the automotive industry due to its fast readability and greater storage capacity compared to standard UPC barcodes. Applications include product tracking, item identification, time tracking, document management, and general marketing.

A QR code consists of black squares arranged in a square grid on a white background, which can be read by an imaging device such as a camera, and processed using Reed–Solomon error correction until the image can be appropriately interpreted. The required data is then extracted from patterns that are present in both horizontal and vertical components of the image. QR codes have become common in consumer advertising. Typically, a smartphone is used as a QR code scanner, displaying the code and converting it to some useful form (such as a standard URL for a website, thereby obviating the need for a user to type it into a web browser).
QR code has become a focus of advertising strategy, since it provides a way to access a brand's website more quickly than by manually entering a URL. Beyond mere convenience to the consumer, the importance of this capability is that it increases the conversion rate (the chance that contact with the advertisement will convert to a sale), by coaxing interested prospects further down the conversion funnel with little delay or effort, bringing the viewer to the advertiser's website immediately, where a longer and more targeted sales pitch may lose the viewer's interest. Although initially used to track parts in vehicle manufacturing, QR codes are used over a much wider range of applications, including commercial tracking, entertainment and transport ticketing, product and loyalty marketing (examples: mobile couponing where a company's discounted and percent discount can be captured using a QR code decoder which is a mobile app, or storing a company's information such as address and related information alongside its alpha-numeric text data as can be seen in Yellow Pages directory), and in-store product labeling. It can also be used in storing personal information for use by organizations. An example of this is Philippines National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) where NBI clearances now come with a QR code. Many of these applications target mobile-phone users (via mobile tagging). Users may receive text, add a vCard contact to their device, open a URI, or compose an e-mail or text message after scanning QR codes. They can generate and print their own QR codes for others to scan and use by visiting one of several pay or free QR code-generating sites or apps. Google had an API, now deprecated, to generate QR codes, and apps for scanning QR codes can be found on nearly all smartphone devices.[14] QR codes storing addresses and URLs may appear in magazines, on signs, on buses, on business cards, or on almost any object about which users might want information. Users with a camera phone equipped with the correct reader application can scan the image of the QR code to display text, contact information, connect to a wireless network, or open a web page in the telephone's browser.
This act of linking from physical world objects is termed hard-linking or object hyperlinking. QR codes also may be linked to a location to track where a code has been scanned. Either the application that scans the QR code retrieves the geo information by using GPS and cell tower triangulation (aGPS) or the URL encoded in the QR code itself is associated with a location.

QR codes have been used and printed on train tickets in China since 2010.

In June 2011 The Royal Dutch Mint (Koninklijke Nederlandse Munt) issued the world's first official coin with a QR code to celebrate the centenary of its current building and premises. The coin can be scanned by a smartphone and link to a special website with contents about the historical event and design of the coin. In 2014 the Central Bank of Nigeria issued a 100-naira banknote to commemorate its centennial, the first banknote to incorporate a QR code in its design.

When scanned with an internet-enabled mobile device, the code goes to a website which tells the centenary story of Nigeria. 

In 2015, the Central Bank of the Russian Federation issued a 100-rubles note to commemorate the annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation. It contains a QR code into its design, and when scanned with an internet-enabled mobile device, the code goes to a website that details the historical and technical background of the commemorative note. In 2017, the Bank of Ghana issued a 5-cedis banknote to commemorate 60 years of Central Banking in Ghana and contains a QR code in its design, which when scanned with an internet-enabled mobile device, that code goes to the official Bank of Ghana website. In 2008, a Japanese stonemason announced plans to engrave QR codes on gravestones, allowing visitors to view information about the deceased, and family members to keep track of visits. Psychologist Richard Wiseman was one of the first authors to include QR codes in a book, in Paranormality: Why We See What Isn't There (2011). On February 20, 2016, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) will[needs update] launch the eponymously named Bharat QR, a common QR code jointly developed by all the four major card payment companies - National Payments Corporation of India that runs RuPay cards along with MasterCard, Visa, and American Express. It will also have the capability of accepting payments on the unified payments interface (UPI) platform.

Mobile operating systems

QR codes can be used on various mobile device operating systems. These devices support URL redirection, which allows QR codes to send metadata to existing applications on the device. Many paid or free apps are available with the ability to scan the codes and hard-link to an external URL.


URLs aided marketing conversion rates even in the pre-smartphone era, but during those years faced several limitations: ad viewers usually had to type the URL and often did not have a web browser in front of them when they first viewed the ad. The chances were high that they would forget to visit the site later, not bother to type a URL or forget what URL to type. Semantic URLs decreased these risks but did not eliminate them. Some of these disadvantages to URL conversion rates are fading away now that smartphones are putting web access and voice recognition in constant reach, with QR code providing the URL for instant access.

Virtual stores

During the month of June 2011, according to one study, 14 million mobile users scanned a QR code or a barcode. Some 58% of those users scanned a QR or barcode from their homes, while 39% scanned from retail stores; 53% of the 14 million users were men between the ages of 18 and 34. The use of QR codes for "virtual store" formats started in South Korea, and Argentina, but is currently expanding globally. Walmart, Procter & Gamble and Woolworths have already adopted the Virtual Store concept.

Code payments

QR codes can be used to store bank account information or credit card information, or they can be specifically designed to work with particular payment provider applications. There are several trial applications of QR code payments across the world. In developing countries like India and China, QR code payment is a very popular and convenient method of paying and some big names in such industry are WeChat Pay and PayTM. In November 2012, QR code payments were deployed on a larger scale in the Czech Republic when an open format for payment information exchange - a Short Payment Descriptor - was introduced and endorsed by the Czech Banking Association as the official local solution for QR payments. In 2013, the European Payment Council provided guidelines for the EPC QR code enabling SCT initiation within the Eurozone. QR codes are commonly used in the field of cryptographic currencies, particularly those based on and including Bitcoin. Payment addresses, cryptographic keys, and transaction information are often shared between digital wallets in this way.

Website login

QR codes can be used to log into websites: a QR code is shown on the login page on a computer screen, and when a registered user scans it with a verified smartphone, they will automatically be logged in. Authentication is performed by the smartphone which contacts the server. Google tested such a login method in January 2012.

WiFi network login

By specifying the SSID, encryption type, password/passphrase, and if the SSID is hidden or not, mobile device users can quickly scan and join networks without having to manually enter the data. Note: This only specifies static SSID passwords (i.e. PSK), this does not encode dynamic user credentials (i.e. Enterprise/802.1x).

The format of the encoded string is:

WIFI:S:<SSID>;T:<WPA|WEP|>;P:<password>;H:<true|false|>; Order of fields does not matter. Special characters "", ";", "," and ":" should be escaped with a backslash ("\") as in MECARD encoding. For example, if an SSID was literally "foo;bar\baz" (with double quotes part of the SSID name itself) then it would be encoded like: WIFI:S:\"foo\;bar\\baz\";;

As of January 2018 iPhones have this feature built into the camera app since iOS 11.x -- Android users can use the free app "Barcode Scanner" or "QR Droid" to perform the QR wifi join. The barcode scanner feature in Firefox for Android recognizes the data type as "WLAN login" but currently takes no action.

Funerary use

In 2008, Ishinokoe in Yamanashi Prefecture, Japan began to sell tombstones with QR codes produced by IT DeSign, where the code leads to a virtual gravesite of the deceased. Other companies, such as Wisconsin based Interactive Headstones, have begun implementing QR codes into tombstones. In 2014 the Jewish Cemetery of La Paz in Uruguay began implementing QR codes for tombstones.

Transcripts and Degrees

Verification of transcripts and degree certificates in developing countries such as India, China, Mexico, Thailand, etc. using QR code is also popular due to their cost-effectiveness and convenience. Many universities such as the University of Calcutta, University of Mumbai, APJ Abdul Kalam Technical University[44], Karnataka University, Sinaloa Secretaría de Educación Pública y Cultura (Mexico), Mahidol University, etc. have adopted this technology to make their degrees certificates tamper-proof. Millions of students are benefiting from such simple application of QR code.

The earliest recorded research on Transcripts/Degrees using QR code for verification was published by Somdip Dey, with results from a prototype system built in 2013, which has shaped the development of such systems to reduce forgery of academic documents.


Japanese immigration landing permission with a QR code at the bottom. The QR code content is encrypted. Encrypted QR codes, which are not very common, have a few applications. For example, there is an Android app,[51] that manages encryption and decryption of QR codes using the Data Encryption Standard algorithm. There are also many custom built encryption algorithms used for QR code encryption. Some popular algorithms in this area consist of published works by Somdip Dey. The Japanese immigration system usage of encrypted QR codes on landing permission stamps in passports is another example.

Video games

Popular video games, such as Fez and The Talos Principle, have incorporated QR codes as the story and/or gameplay elements



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