QR codes: More than a marketing gimmick

I sometimes think we’ve become so enamored of new tools that we embrace emerging technologies regardless of their validity.

That’s a mistake. New products should be seen through two prisms—one in the way they solve existing problems, the other in how they offer new capabilities.

To understand the difference, consider QR (quick response) codes.

A little context here: QR codes originated almost a decade ago with the automotive industry in Japan, and the system quickly gained traction by proving easy to read and having great storage.

There’s now a range of QR code applications on the market, from product tracking to document management, but that’s not how the tool is commonly perceived.

For most people, QR codes are a cool marketing gimmick; a secret key to discounts and giveaways. That’s certainly true, but if that’s the only value it brings, then it’s likely to be made obsolete by newer gimmicks.

However, there’s so much more to QR than that.

Take, for example, a major pain point for the financial services industry: exception items due to bill pay users entering incorrect information to set up a payee or when making a bill payment. These are avoidable human errors, but errors nonetheless, and they take a toll.

But what if a QR code could contain just the right amount of information for a mobile user to make an error-free bill payment?

This was the thinking behind the QR Bill specification, which was submitted to the NACHA Electronic Payments Association’s Council for Electronic Billing and Payment as a potential solution.

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