QR code, short for Quick Response Code, is a prominent 2-dimensional barcode technology that was invented some 30 years ago, in 1994 by a Japanese engineer at Denso Wave, named Masahiro Hara. The technology, at present has become pervasive and it can be seen all around us be it an eatery where it can be seen in the form of a digital menu, or in hotels where it can be seen on check-in counters, room keys, and for contactless QR payments. It can be seen on airline tickets, business cards, brochures and marketing ads, emails (in the form of email marketing), as well as wine bottles and other fast retail packages.
In India, QR codes can be easily spotted on a tea stall or a grocery shop where you can just scan the QR code and make payments. And now, QR codes are cutting short the long queues at banks and ATMs.
The Covid 19 pandemic certainly pushed the QR code uses in many countries when people were required to make social distancing and stand 6 feet apart from the vendors and cashiers while making payments. People stopped handing out their credit cards and debit cards and even cash for the fear of catching the dreaded covid19 virus, the coronavirus. This is when QR based payments got traction and people started scanning QR codes for making payments. In India however, the push for QR-based digital payments started for an entirely different reason altogether.
It was in 2016 (8 Nov 2016 – 30 Dec 2016) when the Indian govt. announced that the Indian rupees of denominations 500 and 1000 would cease to be a legal tender after the two months (November and December 2016) and people started depositing their money into the banks. A report by RBI in 2018 highlighted that nearly 99.30% of all the INR 500 and INR 1000 banknotes that were in circulation returned to the banking system. The plan was to curb corruption by catching all the black money in circulation which didn’t quite work out as it was intended. Nonetheless, the pre-planned demonetization led to one good thing. People stopped depending on banks for their transactions.
UPI and QR Codes
The UPI (Unified Payments Interface) launched in 2016 created a new way of making payments to merchants and friends and relatives that commenced a new digital economy in India with most people coming into fold of this cashless economy. All they needed to do was join their bank accounts with an UPI interface or simply register the mobile no. (as registered with the bank) at any UPI platform such as Paytm, PhonePe, BHIM, or Google pay.
QR codes played an important role here as this was also the time Apple Inc. (in 2017) integrated the QR scanning feature in their iPhone line up and other mobile manufacturing followed suit. Earlier people needed to download third party QR scanning apps which weren’t quite efficient (took more efforts).
So integration of QR code scanning feature with the main camera allowed people to quickly scan a QR code and make payments or open a URL or scan a brochure.
How QR Codes are cutting short long Queues at ATMs and Banks in India
The QR codes have provided a new avenues of instant digital payments to Indians and now we are scanning around 2-3 QR codes on daily basis, making payments for food, medicines and grocery items.
Besides, people have stopped going to banks for checking their bank statements as they can easily access it using the UPI. They can send money to their friends and receive money from their family, with an SMS confirmation which can also be verified by a secure app such as Paytm and Phonepe.
Apart from not visiting bank branches unless people have to update their KYC (know your customer), people have also stopped queuing before an ATM vestibule which was a big issue not so long. People waited hours in queue outside ATM machines to get their money out or deposit their money.
With QR being so mainstream people can now scan it at any small or big shop and make payments and even transfer money using UPI to whomsoever they like.
To conclude, QR codes have completely changed the way we interact with a 30 years old technology taking it mainstream. QR code and UPI enabled payment interface has been a routine practice in India post demonetization and post pandemic where people are simply scanning a QR code to pay their bills as well as to transfer money to people they like. This has drastically reduced the burden off the Bank branches and ATMs, cutting short the long queues outside such avenues.
- Last updated on Aug 01, 2023