Russia, the largest country of the world, has over 83 million active internet users and high smartphone engagement.

QR Codes in Russia have become increasingly popular in recent years, with a wide range of applications in various industries. 

The codes have since become a common feature of everyday life in many countries around the world. 

In QR Codes in Russia are used for a variety of purposes, from currency to COVID-19 vaccination passes.

One of the most significant use of QR Codes in Russia is for COVID-19 vaccination passes.

As of March 2024, foreigners who were vaccinated with Sputnik V in Russia must have an SNILS (Individual Insurance Account) number, the Russian equivalent of a Social Security number, to get a QR Code. 

These QR Codes in Russia are required for visiting the city catering establishments and public events with more than 500 people. 

Only people with a QR Code showing they meet the criteria will be allowed to visit cafes or restaurants in some cities.

QR Codes are also used in e-commerce, advertisements, architecture, and transport in Russia. 

For instance, the Russian currency notes, Rubles, bear a QR Code. In 2017, the Central Bank of Russia and the National Mint Goznak unveiled QR Codes on 200 and 2,000 Ruble notes. 

qr codes in russia ruble

The codes are used to provide information about the security features of the notes and to help people distinguish genuine notes from counterfeit ones.

J’son and Partners Consulting surveyed Russia. The aim was to check QR Code awareness among Russian citizens. The data depicted that:

  • 33% of people knew what a QR Code is
  • 8% of people understood it incorrectly
  • 23% have scanned QR Codes (half of them did it all the time)
  • 44% did not know how to scan a QR Code

This was way back in 2012. Things have changed since then. Now QR Codes are used in e-commerce, advertisements, architecture, and transport in Russia.

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A. History of QR Codes in Russia

QR Codes in Russia vector image

QR Codes were first invented in Japan in 1994 by Denso Wave, a subsidiary of Toyota. However, it wasn’t until the mid-2010s that QR Codes became popular in Russia. 

In 2017, the Central Bank of Russia and the National Mint Goznak unveiled QR Codes on 200 and 2,000 Ruble notes. The QR Codes contained information about the banknote’s authenticity and denomination.

Since then, QR Codes have been used in a variety of applications in Russia.

In 2021, the Russian parliament considered proposals for a national QR-code mandate to confront record levels of coronavirus infections and COVID-19 deaths. 

Some regions have already introduced such mandates, requiring people to scan a QR Code when entering public places like restaurants and shopping centers.

The mandate is intended to help track and trace potential COVID-19 cases.

Overall, QR Codes have become increasingly popular in Russia in recent years. They are used in a variety of applications and have become an important tool in the fight against COVID-19.

B. Real-life examples of QR Code usage in Russia

qr codes in russia heritage site

1. Government Policies

The Russian Government has been implementing various policies to control the spread of COVID-19. 

One of the measures is the use of QR Codes as proof of immunity to COVID-19 from air and railway travelers. 

The government proposed a draft law on the use of QR Codes in public places and transport, which came into force on February 1, 2022.

The government shelved a plan for QR vaccination proof on planes and trains in March 2024. 

The decision came after a rally against the COVID-19 vaccination and QR Codes proving immunity status in Yekaterinburg, Russia, on December 12, 2021.

2. Payment Systems

QR Codes are widely used in payment systems in Russia. For example, the Russian payment system “Mir” uses QR Codes for mobile payments. 

Customers can pay by scanning a QR Code with their mobile device, which is linked to their bank account. This provides a convenient and secure way to make payments.

Sberbank, a major Russian bank, uses QR codes extensively in its marketing materials. They might be placed on billboards or printed flyers, allowing people to quickly download the Sberbank mobile app.

Another example is Yandex checkout, It is the leading service for accepting online payments in Russia as per MARC’s survey, 2016.

Yandex checkout helps merchants accept payments through QR Codes. It allows the sellers to place a QR Code on their merchandise such as:

  • Material goods (pizza boxes, books, etc.)
  • Digital products
  • Documents

To make a payment, a user should have the Yandex Money app on the smartphone. All that one needs to do is:

  1. Open Yandex.Money app
  2. Scan the QR Code
  3. Choose a payment method— an e-wallet or a bank card

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3. Marketing Campaigns

QR Codes are also used in marketing campaigns in Russia. Companies use QR Codes to engage with their customers and provide them with additional information about their products or services. 

For example, QR Codes can be placed on product packaging or in advertisements. When scanned, customers are directed to a website or landing page with more information about the product or service.

Notably, Baskin Robbins, a leading ice cream giant ran a campaign in 2019 where QR codes on ice cream tubs unlocked an augmented reality (AR) experience. 

When scanned, customers could virtually “try on” different ice cream flavors with fun animations.

MTS, a Russian mobile network operator, ran a campaign where QR codes were hidden around cities. 

Finding and scanning these codes allowed users to enter a competition for prizes and discounts.

4. Public Services

QR Codes are also used in public services in Russia. For example, the Moscow Metro uses QR Codes to provide passengers with information about train schedules and delays. 

Passengers can scan the QR Codes with their mobile devices to access real-time information about their train.

Russian Railways also utilizes QR codes on e-tickets. Passengers can scan the code to access boarding information and platform details.

The tickets for the train—Moskva— featured the train on one side and a QR Code on the other. Only 6000,000 such tickets were printed back in Apr 2017.

qr codes in russia train tickets

The QR Code is for a mobile app with augmented reality technology. The app allows users to transfer the digital model of Moskva train to anywhere in the world.

Overall, QR Codes have become an integral part of various industries in Russia, providing innovative solutions for payment systems, marketing campaigns, and public services.

5. Architecture

In 2020, During the pandemic, the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow used QR codes placed next to artwork for a virtual tour experience. 

Scanning the code allowed visitors to access detailed information, audio guides, and even 360-degree views of the pieces.

Moscow Central Circle (MCC) has put up Railway History posters and QR Codes at stations. This helps the passengers see what these stations looked like 100 years ago.

qr codes in russia railways

The QR Codes help passengers download the information on history and construction of MCC. They can then read this downloaded information while on their journey.

Back In Aug 2012, Russia opened the futuristic QR Code QR-encrusted Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale. Every inch of the pavilion—floor, walls, ceiling— is covered with QR Codes.

qr codes in russia Russian Pavilion Venice

The visitors can access the virtual exhibition with a tablet. These QR Codes reveal the plans for Skolkovo city, dedicated to science and technology.

These examples show the wide use of  QR Codes in Russia. The QR Codes are versatile enough to direct the users from print media to online content.

If you’re a marketer and you want to run a campaign in Russia, QR Codes are the ‘way to go’ for you.

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C. Challenges and Limitations

1. Technical Challenges

QR Codes have become a popular medium for conveying information in Russia. However, they are not without their challenges. 

One of the primary technical challenges of using QR Codes is that they require a mobile device with a camera and a QR Code reader application. 

This requirement may limit the accessibility of QR Codes to people who do not have smartphones or who are not familiar with using QR Codes.

Another technical challenge of QR Codes is that they are vulnerable to hacking and other forms of cyber-attacks. 

Hackers can create fake QR Codes that lead users to malicious websites or install malware on their devices. 

To address this issue, it is important to use secure and reliable QR Code generators and readers.

2. User Acceptance

QR Codes are still relatively new to many people in Russia, and some users may be hesitant to adopt them due to concerns about privacy and security. 

For example, some people may be reluctant to scan QR Codes that require them to provide personal information or access to their device’s camera or microphone.

Moreover, there are concerns about the accessibility of QR Codes for people with disabilities. For example, some visually impaired people may not be able to scan QR Codes using their mobile devices’ cameras. 

To address this issue, it is important to provide alternative methods for accessing the information conveyed by QR Codes, such as audio or tactile cues.

Overall, while QR Codes have many benefits, they also pose some challenges and limitations in terms of technical requirements and user acceptance. 

To ensure the widespread adoption of QR Codes in Russia, it is important to address these challenges and develop strategies to overcome them.

D. Future of QR Codes in Russia

Future of QR Codes

1. Technological Advancements

QR Codes have been around for quite some time now, and they have been widely adopted in Russia. 

However, with the rapid advancements in technology, QR Codes are expected to evolve in the coming years. 

One of the major advancements expected is the integration of augmented reality (AR) with QR Codes. 

This would enable users to scan the code and get a more interactive experience, such as 3D images or videos.

Another technological advancement that is expected is the use of blockchain technology with QR Codes. 

This would enable users to verify the authenticity of the information contained in the code, making QR Codes more secure and reliable.

2. Potential Growth Areas

QR Codes have already been widely adopted in Russia, but there are still many potential growth areas that could benefit from the use of QR Codes. 

One such area is the healthcare sector. With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, QR Codes can be used to track and trace patients, as well as to verify vaccination records.

Another potential growth area is the retail sector. QR Codes can be used to provide customers with more information about products, such as ingredients, nutritional information, and reviews. 

They can also be used to enable customers to purchase products directly from their mobile devices.

Overall, the future of QR Codes in Russia looks bright, with many potential advancements and growth areas expected in the coming years.

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E. FAQs: QR Codes in Russia


1. How can one obtain a vaccination QR Codes in Russia?

To obtain a vaccination QR Code in Russia, individuals must first be vaccinated against Covid-19. 

After receiving the vaccine, they can obtain a QR Code by registering on the Gosuslugi portal and downloading it from there. 

It is important to note that the QR Code is only valid for a certain period and must be renewed periodically.

2. In which locations are QR Codes typically utilized?

QR Codes are widely utilized in Russia and can be found in a variety of locations, including restaurants, cafes, museums, and public transportation. 

They are also used in many government offices and institutions.

3. What purposes do QR Codes serve in the context of Covid-19 tracking?

QR Codes are utilized in the context of Covid-19 tracking to help identify and track individuals who have been vaccinated against the virus. 

They are also used to monitor individuals who have been in contact with Covid-19 positive cases.

4. Are there specific applications required to scan QR Codes in Russia?

No, there are no specific applications required to scan QR Codes in Russia. Most smartphones come equipped with a QR Code scanner built into the camera app.

5. What are the privacy implications of using QR Codes for personal identification?

There are concerns about privacy implications when using QR Codes for personal identification. 

However, in Russia, the government has assured citizens that their personal information will be protected and that the use of QR Codes is necessary to help control the spread of COVID-19.

6. How are businesses implementing QR Code technology for transactions?

Many businesses in Russia are implementing QR Code technology for transactions. This allows customers to make payments using their smartphones, eliminating the need for physical cash or credit cards. 

QR Codes are also used to provide customers with information about products and services.

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