Do you know all the things you can use QR codes for?

Last updated by Brady Stroud [SSW] about 1 month ago.See history

Just as barcodes allow machines to read data from items in stores, QR codes are a barcode-like vector between online and offline information. 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, the latter being huge in China.

1. Use a QR code to follow a WeChat Business/Brand Account

Customers - WeChat allows users to follow a Business/Brand account upon scanning (using the built-in QR scanner). QR codes aren’t just used online, but also in a store or on business cards to save you typing in a URL.

Businesses - Followers of the WeChat Business/Brand accounts can be sent a limited number of messages per month, usually product info and promotions.

Figure: A QR code on a Microsoft newsletter, which allows customers to scan and follow the business account

Follow official account
Figure: The WeChat app can scan the QR code, which then allows the customer to click the Follow button. They will then receive regular updates

2. Use a QR code to share WeChat contact information

All WeChat users get their own customized QR code. It can be shown for anyone else to scan or share.

Note: QR codes can be scanned by tapping and holding on them.

personal qr code
Figure: Customize WeChat’s personal QR code by changing the style

extract a qr code
Figure: Tap and hold on a QR image to extract a QR code

3. Use a QR code to receive money in Alipay

Alipay allows users to receive funds via QR code without adding the payee as a contact.

Users create a QR code for the payer to scan and pay.

receive money alipay
Figure: How to show your "Pay me" QR code on Alipay

4. Use a QR code to make a payment offline by using WeChat and Alipay

Making a payment to an offline merchant can be done via QR code.

Once your total has been rung up, show your “Pay Vendor” QR code for the merchant to scan and pay.

pay vendor wechat
Figure: How to show your “Pay Vendor” QR code on WeChat

pay vendor alipay
Figure: How to show your “Pay Vendor” QR code on Alipay

5. Use a QR code to check product history and verification

QR codes are used for linking information such as supply and manufacture dates on the side of the packaging.

product info qrcode
Figure: Use WeChat to scan the QR code and view product information in a supermarket

6. Use a QR code to install apps

Companies are using QR codes to distribute Apps to download and install. It is easier than putting a link on ads or asking customers to search in App stores.

install apps qr code
Figure: A government-sponsored billboard in Hangzhou showcasing apps for tourists

7. Use a QR code to sign-up and login to websites

Some websites offer login using WeChat’s third-party authentication API - simply use WeChat to scan their QR code.

zhihu login
Figure: Use WeChat to sign-up and login to Zhihu (a Chinese Quora alternative)

Some social networks also offer login by scanning a QR code using the network’s own app instead of entering a username and a password.

weibo login
Figure: Use the Weibo App to scan a QR code to login to their services on the web

8. Use a QR code to connect to a hotspot

Wi-Fi via WeChat is a feature for businesses and public places offering free Wi-Fi hotspots to their customers. It’s a common service in China. Rather than having to find the publicly posted Wi-Fi password, users can login quickly using their WeChat accounts.

hotspot qr code
Figure: How to connect to a public hotspot

9. Use a QR code to ride a bus or subway

You can use QR codes to ride a bus or subway in most main cities in China.

For example, to ride a bus using Alipay QR code in Hangzhou you have to apply for a virtual bus card and use the card when you are boarding a bus.

ride bus qr code
Figure: How to ride a bus using the Alipay QR code in Hangzhou

show qr code bus
Figure: Presenting your QR code to a bus scanner

10. Use a QR code to unlock a share-bike

You can rent a bike in China by scanning a QR code on a share-bike.

For example, to rent a Hellobike:

sharing bike qr code
Figure: How to rent a Hellobike using the Alipay App

Note: Make sure you have funds available in your Alipay account.

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