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Is QR code lifetime?

QR codes have become ubiquitous in recent years, allowing users to easily access digital content by scanning a barcode with their smartphone camera. But how long will QR codes remain relevant? Are they just a passing fad, or are they here to stay? Let’s take a deeper look at the past, present, and future of QR code technology.

The History of QR Codes

QR codes were invented in 1994 by the Japanese company Denso Wave. The “QR” stands for “Quick Response,” as the codes were designed to be scanned quickly compared to traditional barcodes. The initial purpose was tracking vehicles during the manufacturing process in the automotive industry.

Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, QR codes saw some usage in Japan to link to websites and store contact information. However, they did not gain widespread adoption elsewhere in the world during this time. It wasn’t until the rise of smartphones with built-in cameras that QR codes began to proliferate globally.

Once smartphone users could easily scan the codes to access digital content, brands and marketers realized the potential of QR codes for connecting with customers. Apps like Snapchat and Spotify helped popularize QR code scanning among younger demographics. From event ticketing to payments, QR codes enabled seamless digital experiences without typing in URLs.

The Rise of QR Code Usage

According to a report by Outgrow, global QR code scan volumes increased over 400% from 2018 to 2021. The COVID-19 pandemic greatly accelerated adoption, as QR codes provided contactless engagement for restaurants, retail stores, and other businesses. Customers could scan to access menus, product information, coupons, loyalty programs, and more.

The pandemic also led to increased use of QR codes for health and safety, including for contact tracing and accessing vaccine records. With air travel rebounding, QR codes streamline the airport experience for ticketing, baggage, and security.

Events and conferences now rely heavily on QR codes for digital ticketing and attendee engagement. For example, over 150,000 QR code scans were recorded at the 2022 SXSW festival in Austin. Museums, parks, and tourism sites integrate QR-powered audio tours and guides.

Key QR Code Usage Statistics

Global QR code scan volume growth Over 400% from 2018 to 2021
Projected global QR code market size $3.3 billion by 2028
Top QR code use cases Payments, product information, marketing campaigns, contactless menus
QR code scanning demographics Most popular among millennials and Gen Z

QR code usage continues to accelerate across industries. As more consumers become accustomed to scanning, it offers businesses an easy way to bridge the physical and digital.

Current QR Code Trends

A key reason for the staying power of QR codes is their flexibility across contexts. Some current trends include:

Dynamic QR Codes

Static QR codes remain the same when scanned. Dynamic QR codes can change to display different content. This allows personalized engagements based on factors like customer identity, time of scan, location, campaign and more. Dynamic QR codes can provide coupons, redirect to specific products, or display user-targeted content.

QR Codes for Payments

QR code payments eliminate the need to handle cash or exchange credit cards. Users can easily scan to pay at retail stores, farmer’s markets, restaurants and pop-up shops. Payment platforms like PayPal, Venmo and Zelle integrate QR code capabilities. Cryptocurrency wallets allow transferring funds by scanning QR codes.

QR Codes for Event Experiences

At conferences, trade shows, concerts and sporting events, QR codes enhance engagement before, during and after. Examples include mobile ticketing, interactive maps and schedules, live polls and surveys, AR experiences, contactless food/drink ordering, rideshares, feedback forms, gamification and contests.

QR Codes in Education

Many schools and organizations use QR codes to share digital content and media, foster community, and create interactive, self-guided experiences. Teachers attach QR codes to assignments, projects, lessons and worksheets. Students can scan to access resources or submit work digitally.

Augmented Reality (AR)

A QR code scan can launch AR experiences and immersive 3D content. Retailers enable virtual try-on of products, museums bring exhibits to life, manufacturers provide digital equipment demos, and real estate listings allow virtual property tours. The metaverse is driving more AR activations via QR codes.

The Future of QR Codes

The flexibility, ease of use, and wide accessibility of QR code technology points to continued growth in adoption and innovation. Here are some projections for the future of QR codes:

Mainstream Appeal

As more consumers become accustomed to QR code scanning, it will see continued usage for payments, retail, events, transportation and other daily activities.QR code marketing and engagement will shift from novelty to mainstream.

Increased Personalization

With dynamic QR codes, businesses can deliver tailored content and offers based on customer interests and context. Personalized QR code experiences boost engagement and conversion rates.

Expanded AR/VR Integration

QR codes will play an increased role in augmented and virtual reality. Scanning a code can easily transport users into interactive AR/VR environments without needing to download apps or access websites.

Connection to Web 3.0

In a distributed web 3.0 ecosystem, QR codes provide a seamless bridge to access and interact with blockchain-based platforms, NFTs, cryptocurrency wallets, metaverse worlds and decentralized applications.


QR codes have progressed far beyond their origins in the automotive industry to become a ubiquitous linking mechanism. While some assumed QR codes would fade as a pandemic-induced fad, innovation and ease of use across contexts are cementing their place in the digital landscape. With versatile use cases and constant improvements in technology, QR codes have proven they are here to stay.