QR Code Statistics 2021: Up-To-Date Numbers On Global QR Code Usage

QR Codes are a common sight now. Thanks to the increase in smartphone penetration that went from 10% in 2014 to 36% in 2018. And access to high-speed mobile internet which increased from 48.8% in 2014 to 61.2% in 2018.

In addition to this, internet users have grown by 7.3% from Jan 2020 to Jan 2021. Here, 96.6 % of device ownership belongs to smartphone users.

These factors have led to the massive adoption of QR Codes. Hence, from product packagings to the walls of buildings, you can find various types of QR Codes almost everywhere.

QR Codes everywhere

We earlier showed you if people use QR Codes or not. From this, it is clearly evident that the use of QR Codes is soaring day-by-day. However, you might think—what is the QR Code usage in exact numbers? What are the actual QR Code statistics?

If you’re reading this then you know that publically available statistics on QR Code usage are very low. However, we’ve compiled an exhaustive list of data points available via research reports and databases.

QR Code Statistics—Global and the US

In 2014, Adobe Systems conducted a study on QR Code usage over a period of three months. The study covered four countries—Germany, France, UK, and the US.

qr code statistics: countrywise

Of the total participants from Germany, a good 29% had used a QR Code. This number was 28% for France, and 26% for the UK and the US.

Hence, we can safely say that in general, 25-30% of populations in developed nations use QR Codes. And this was back in 2014. The usage has massively changed since then.

Also, according to a recent survey by Statista, in the US alone, an estimated 11 Million households were forecast to have scanned a QR Code in 2020. This would have meant an increase from an estimated 9.76 Million scans in 2018.

qr code statistics

And this was the scenario before COVID hit the world. The pandemic has opened doors to massive success for touchless technologies (QR Code being of the leading player). The contactless commerce is expected to pick-up a rigorous pace. As per a report by Gartner, 80% of ordering, checkout, and payment services will become contactless by 2024.

In fact, in September 2020, Statista conducted a survey. It was about the increase in QR Code usage since shelter-in-place. The survey included participants from both the US and UK. Among the respondents, 46.75% agreed on an increase in QR Code usage.

Another survey was conducted in the same month with the respondents from the two regions. It enquired them about the most secure location for scanning the QR Code. A good 42.55 % felt most secure at a restaurant, bar, or café. On the other hand, 19.4 % felt the same level of assurance at a gym, pool, or any other fitness-centre.

Hence there is a huge potential for US marketers who are considering adding a QR Code to their print media campaigns. (Also see how Latin America is using QR Codes.)

Not only the US but also countries such as Canada, IndonesiaMalaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand, France, Switzerland, and Australia use QR Codes widely.

In September 2020, Statista conducted a survey with Russian participants. It was to gauge their support for various measures taken to tackle the coronavirus. According to it, 64% supported the introduction of the system with passes, QR Codes, and other similar movements within the system. This clearly indicates that the Russians have not only become more receptive to QR Codes but are supporting them too. This throws the doors open for the adoption of QR Codes for a wide array of use cases in the country.

QR Code usage is also seeing a surge in the Middle East and Africa. How? Well, because it went from 12% in 2017 to 18% in 2018. And the figures have only blown up post-pandemic.

The surge in QR Code Usage 

According to Bluebite, the following surge in QR Code usage was reported from 2018 to 2019:

  • 28% growth in QR Code Reach 
  • 26% surge in the number of interactions 
  • 35% increase in the number of interactions per object

This data clearly conveys an increase in QR Code usage over the years. 

The growth in the number of interactions per object is even more interesting. It means that people are scanning the same QR Code more than once. This speaks for the usefulness and users’ confidence in QR Codes. 

QR Code use cases and usage distribution by age group

You might think—what use cases are QR Codes being used for? And the answer is—many. One of the most popular use cases is—payments. And another such use case is—offering discount coupons via print promotions.

In 2017, about 1.7 Billion coupons were obtained via QR Codes.

And in 2018, an estimated 3.27 Million households obtained a coupon via a QR Code.

qr code statistics coupon

It is estimated that by 2022, about 5.3 Billion coupon codes will be redeemed via QR Codes. Huge, right?

Here are other ways you can use QR Codes for marketing, education, security, etc.

If you’re a marketer, you know how important it is to know your target audience. So you might think—while many people are actually scanning QR Codes, what age groups do they fall under?

And the answer to this question is—predominantly between 24 to 54 years of age.

According to a 2015 study by Scanlife, here is the distribution of global QR Code scanning audience by age:

qr code statistics: age group

The age group with the highest percentage of people scanning QR Codes was 34-44 years.

Again note that this was in 2015. Since then apps—popular with the younger generation—such as Snapchat, Pinterest, and WeChat—have added QR Code scanning features. This shows that this age distribution in 2018 is likely to shift towards the younger generation.

QR Code Usage in Payments—China, India, Global

WeChat—which is predominantly used in China—made the nation obsessed with QR Codes in the last few years. The Chinese scan QR Codes to make payments, get information, authenticate themselves, avail offers, and practically every other use case.

According to CNN Tech, USD 1.65 Trillion in transactions was done via QR Codes in China in 2016.

In India as well, there has been a surge of QR Code transactions since the demonetization initiative by the Indian Government in Nov 2016. Paytm—one of the biggest payments platforms—had 6 Million merchants by the beginning of 2018. The company aimed to increase this to 10 Million by the first half of 2018. This was as reported by First Post.

Globally, 4% of all consumer transactions are via QR Codes. This is according to a survey by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Visa Inc., and GfK.

qr code statistics

This recent increase in awareness of QR Codes via payment transactions will allow consumers to interact with QR Codes for other purposes as well—getting information, availing an offer, registering for an event, etc.

For example—street artists are now using QR Codes to get tips. Though highly talented, street artists are underpaid. So a lot of them now include QR Codes in their artwork such as graffiti which links to their cryptocurrency wallet.

According to a 2015 survey by TNS Infratest and Google, the Chinese also lead in the percentage of people who have scanned a QR Code while shopping:

qr code statistics scan

It’s worth mentioning that the contactless payment market is expected to hit $4.68 Trillion by 2027 which means an expansion at a CAGR of 19.8% from 2020 to 2027. As per Tencent’s 2020 Pandemic report, for the first quarter itself, the economy from WeChat QR Codes shot up by 25.86% regardless of the tough macroenvironment.

These QR Code statistics acts as a testimony to the fact that QR Code scanning has not just become rigorously rampant but is also rapidly growing. People are more receptive to QR Codes than ever before. Thanks to high-speed internet, smartphone penetration, and the COVID.

Covid-19 has even fueled Asia’s future in digital payment. According to McKinsey & Company,  there is an 80/20 rise in digital payments. That means the digital user base has seen a 20% increase, where 80% has been registered during the peak of Covid-19. It is expected to remain for the long term even post-pandemic.

And not just Asia, the UK, and Europe are embracing QR Codes more than ever. Mobileiron conducted a survey across the UK and Europe to check the audience’s reliance on QR Coes. It reported that 86.66% of smartphone users had scanned a QR Code at least once in their lifetime. And 36.40 % scan at least one QR Code a week.

In addition to this, 46.81% of respondents agreed that QR codes make life easier in a touchless world. But that’s not where it ends. A good 38.99% of respondents want to see QR Codes used more broadly in the future.

QR Code Statistics across UK and Europe

This is how QR Codes are shifting the paradigm of digitization in the UK too.

COVID derived adoption of QR Codes

The pandemic has lead many businesses and governments to adopt QR Codes for many unique use cases. Here are some of them:

  1. Carlsberg, a multinational brewer, has added QR Codes to various touchpoints. These can be scanned by the customers to gain points, accept event invitations, or even find details about a product
  2. In New South Wales, Australia, the government made it compulsory to use the QR Codes in shops, and cafes for contact tracing.
  3. The American giants such as Walmart, Starbucks, and Decathlon are using QR Codes for payments and loyalty accounts. Similarly, Nike, Home Depot, and Diesel are using them for marketing purposes whereas Coca-Cola and Zara are trying to explore more use cases for their business
  4. Restaurants across the world have replaced their paper-based menus with Menu QR Codes. Guests can simply scan them to access the menu digitally on their phone
  5. China has recently mandated using QR Codes for health and travel. They’re in fact enforcing it to turn into a global mechanism

If you’re a marketer planning to run a print campaign globally or even locally, add a QR Code. Your target audience will surely scan it.

The team of QR Code experts at Scanova compiled this report.

QR Code Statistics: Infographic

Do you want to create QR Codes for your print media campaigns? You must look for a QR Code generator that best suits your needs.

About Scanova:

Scanova is an easy-to-use QR Code Generator that helps marketers create, design, manage, and track QR Codes for operational and promotional use cases. Founded in 2013, the company has helped over 100,000+ businesses and marketers create QR Codes, including Amazon, Cisco, Johnson & Johnson, Intel, 7-Eleven, Aon Hewitt, and Levis.

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