In China, people have used QR codes for payments for a long time. According to App Annie, the Chinese payment app Alipay was the world’s most used app in 2018 outside of social networking apps. If you factor in social apps, the Chinese multi-purpose WeChat app – which does social media, messaging and QR code payments – was in the fourth place, only topped by Facebook, WhatsApp and Messenger. 15 million small-business merchants accept Alipay’s QR code payments in China.
QR codes have, for a while, been a popular way to transact in quite a few other countries too. In India, 9 million merchants use the digital wallet Paytm, which processes QR payments. In African countries, restaurants print QR codes on receipts so customers can pay on their own.
In these and other countries, QR codes continue to be an excellent way for merchants to accept payments without a card machine or other expensive setup, and the customer doesn’t even have to own a payment card.
Compare that to countries where nearly everyone uses payment cards and bank accounts, and the appeal of QR code payments is not that pressing. That said, Covid-19 has boosted usage in the past year beyond predictions.
In the future, places with many tourists from countries used to QR codes could see additional gains from accepting digital wallets like Alipay and Paytm.