Jennifer Sherman, SVP of product at NMI, a payments enablement technology company, gives her insight on the importance of QR codes for both customers and merchants.
The pandemic has changed how customers shop. As businesses continue to find innovative ways to make sure customers feel safe and in control of their environment in stores, QR codes have become a go-to method for creating contactless payment experiences that customers have now come to expect.
For customers, this technology allows them to easily access menus and pay for food at restaurants, pay for a carton of milk at the grocery store or nectarines at the farmer’s market and more.
QR code technology has recently seen a resurgence due to the drive for contactless payments during the pandemic lockdown, and that surge is continuing. This isn’t a new payment method, but rather a new path to get to the payment page in sanitary and straightforward way.
From a business perspective, QR codes are allowing restaurants, retailers and even small businesses to reestablish trust with customers as they reenter storefronts following the pandemic.
The value of a QR code
A QR code is a two-dimensional barcode that contains information, most often a link, to an application or a website URL. Customers scan the QR code using a smartphone camera and are taken to a landing page where they can either access a menu, complete a payment or evenmake a charitable donation – the use cases for QR codes are endless.
Since QR codes are essentially quick links directly to a checkout page, they are as safe as any purchase that’s made on an eCommerce site today for both the merchant and the customer. Since there is no need for a customer to enter a PIN to complete the transaction, customers must make sure the mobile device they are using is secure.
The use case for QR codes aren’t a one-size-fits-all solution and developers must think through the use case to determine what their end goal will be. Is this an invoice to be paid? A restaurant tab that customers may want to split? A farmer’s market stall with no time to generate a unique QR code for each customer being rung up? A charity or church collecting donations in a donor specified amount? Each use case has its own flow to be built out.
QR codes can be a gamechanger moving forward for retailers. Independent software vendors have developed unattended retail payment solutions that allow customers to shop online for all the products they need and the app returns them a QR code to use to pick up the goods.
NMI is impowering ISVs to use QR codes in this way and to vend items at kiosks and create a similar shopping experience such as Amazon Go, for consumers who may want to avoid human interaction when they shop, due to safety and health concerns.
The customer then uses that QR code at a kiosk which dispenses the purchased product. Then the transaction is safely processed and the customer card data is securely stored for fast and easy shopping in the future.
For customers, rather than downloading an app or signing in to anything, QR codes makes the transaction easy. Simply by using their camera to scan the QR code, customers go to a website where they can pay straight from their phones. This contactless experience eliminates the need for a payment terminal and is a great solution for software vendors as payment pages can be designed to support the use case specific payment flows. It is also a great answer for merchants who don’t need to be tethered to bulky or costly payment devices.