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Barcoding: How India is Benefiting from QR Technology?

 India is Benefiting from QR Technology

“Quick Response codes or QR codes are two dimensional barcode images that are used to encode texts, identification numbers, images, PDFs etc. in a square matrix shape black white dot based pattern, like traditional barcodes. But the data writing here is horizontal and vertical, resulting in far greater data storing capacity than barcodes.”

 Use of QR codes has become mainstream in a developing country like India. On daily basis, millions of people scan QR codes here to make their payments to shopkeepers, small or big, for their groceries, medicines, food orders and more. Apart from that QR codes are also used for sending money to vendors and friends and relatives.

Post covid, the coronavirus, even though we don’t have to maintain a 6 feet distance, called social distancing, and when covid19 is gone for good, we are still scanning QR codes for menus, for bill payments and off a brochure. We have gotten used to though I wish we could discontinue the QR menu thing, which was fine for covid19 times but now, it just feels cheap and lazy but that’s me. The advertisement industry is so onboard with this inexpensive barcoding technology that billboards in India are full of QR codes trying to say something by not saying it. Recently I had to take a flight from Delhi (DEL) to Pune (PNQ), to my surprise, even my boarding pass had one QR code. The staff was so quick with that, he just took the boarding pass and scanned it and gave me back in a second. The quick response was indeed quite efficient and quick and I don’t thing me being an hour early had anything to do with that.

How India is Benefiting from QR Technology

Indians are fast learners and very talented and creative lot. The top global CEOs such as Sundar Pichai (Google), Satya Nadella (Microsoft), Leena Nair (Chanel) and Shantanu Narayen (Adobe) etc. are living testament to that. We are quick adapters. So when  covid19 hit the 1.4B people in India, we quickly came up with QR based digital payments and UPI (Unified Payment Interface) that provided digital payment facility to anyone with a saving account and a smartphone. Even our covid vaccine certificates had QR codes and unlike USA, we had digital certificates.

We stopped handing out cash, limited our outings and scanned QR codes for menus and payments and successfully prevented covid19 from harming more lives.

But covid19 was just a part of all the huge benefits QR codes have and we Indians realized that too. So what we do, we stick with it. Now you can see a QR code on a pet, on a wine bottle, on a beer, on a grocery shop, on a cold drink bottle, on digital advertisements, billboards, business cards, ID cards, and even on newspapers. In healthcare institutions QR codes are being used on patient cards and on information displays and in schools and college libraries, it is being used to keep record of books and borrowings. It has made library operations pretty simple and efficient.

Apart from that city admins in many of the cities are using QR codes to apprise citizens of various services and all kinds of information. Take Bengaluru, for example, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) is posting QR codes on the road signs across the south zone of the city to help people get all the information about the road(s) including its length, when it was last repaired, maintenance officials, details of waste generated as well as the names and contacts of officials in charge of streetlights.

QR Codes and Barcodes

Barcodes have been around for a long time and we have pretty much seen barcodes on everything from a food package, biscuit pack to a pencil box and coloring book. For decades, the barcode technology provided the world with 12 digit UPC (Universal Product Code) and 13 digit EAN (Electronic Article Number). It gave identification to every item/article being traded across the globe.

The UPC barcode had limited capacity so only a small ID could be encoded but that ID was designed in such a manner that it gave away all the information that was needed about the article/product. That unique ID was against some unique data about the product such as manufacturing data, expiry date, location etc.

The only problem barcode had was slow scanning. You had to closely point the optical barcode scanner towards the barcode and then it would be recorded with a computer system and details could be accessed only then. The limited data capability was also an issue but the massive scale adoption of QR codes is bound to change that.

QR Codes are fast and can be scanned using a smartphone camera. In 2017, Apple Inc. integrated the QR scanning capability with their iPhone line up and other smartphone manufacturing companies followed suit. This pretty much revived the QR code uses in personal space.

It offers 360 degree alignment scanning so you don’t have to rotate your phone in some particular direction. And it has far greater data storing capabilities (say 200 words). You can write a QR code with the entire Lincoln Gettysburg address/speech (19 nov, 1863) pretty easily.

You can also write a QR code with a URL and visit the website of the product or the advertisement. This opens a new dimension of opportunities that we can use QR for.

QR Code and India

The enormous scale QR Code uses in India is mostly related to two things. First being the 4G internet availability in every corner of the country at very low prices, the lowest in the world, at 0.09USD in comparison to USA where 1GB of data costs around 8 USD. And the second reason is smartphone penetration in the country which is at 71% in India in 2023 and expected to reach 96% in 2040.

These two factors mean that a huge percentage of population is able to scan a QR code pretty easily and many do on a daily basis.

Another important factor that contributed to QR Code adoption is the November 2016 demonetization of INR 1000 and INR 500 bank notes. This led to creation of a digital economy which was less independent on cash (cashless economy) and more on digital payments.

Apart from that, QR codes find many applications in digital marketing and advertising in India. The advertising market in India is valued at 743.0 billion USD which is expected to reach 1412.5 billion USD by 2028, according to IMARC group. Thus, QR code technology plays an important role here, connecting more people directly to brands and products, through emails, billboards and brochures, one ad at a time.

To conclude, QR codes have become a part of the daily routine in Indian cities. People here have gotten used to scanning QR codes and making their digital payments for literally everything, be it milk, medicines, grocery or restaurant bills.

Disclaimer: The information presented here is for general information purposes only and true to best of our understanding. Users are requested to use any information as per their own understanding and knowledge. Before using any of the information, please refer to our Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions.

  • Created on Aug 07, 2023

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