Adapt to the Coronavirus era with QR Codes. They are here to stay and make you safe.
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Coronavirus and its impact on life itself
To say that COVID-19, or coronavirus as it’s commonly known, has taken the world by storm would be an understatement. In the midst of what some define as the worst economic recession in the past 100 years, the concepts of “social distancing”, “contactless marketing” and “safety first” are shaping up to be the new norms of interaction.
This is not just relegated to businesses but to us as a society as well. Instead of adapting the environment to meet our needs, we are the ones that have to adapt to it.
In fact, the adaptation has already begun. In search of new ways to interact, new technologies are being introduced each and every day. One such technology that has been around for quite some time now is making a huge comeback. Not that it was gone, but now, when keeping distance is a synonym for keeping safe, it couldn’t be better welcomed.
QR codes’ Second Renaissance
In 2011, QR codes boosted mobile marketing. Today, QR codes are here to promote so much more than that.
Before jumping into how QR codes can be of great benefit, it is essential to understand why technology is still relevant today, more than 20 years since their creation. In other words, why QR codes can fight COVID-19 and help flatten the curve.
QR codes, Social distancing and Contactless marketing
According to WHO, “when someone coughs or sneezes, they spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain the virus. If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including the COVID-19 virus if the person coughing has the disease.”
This is why we are strongly advised to wash our hands often, use face masks and keep our distance. Social distancing, quarantine, and isolation are the best ways to reduce the spread of the disease.
On the flip side, this is making it difficult, if not impossible, for businesses to thrive. Such is the case of restaurants, retail stores, cultural attractions, concerts, movies, plays, sporting events, and more.
Enter contactless marketing; a new type of interaction that encourages social distancing while maintaining businesses operational.
There are two primary means to achieve this; NFC and QR codes. Both of them can work at a distance, but QR codes have the high ground. The minimum distance to scan a QR code is 25 cm, while NFC’s is 4 cm. Taking into consideration that touching a surface may result in getting infected, the use of QR codes is a must to protect a target audience.
QR codes, China and the world
China was the epicenter of the Coronavirus pandemic. But it is also the epicenter of the use of QR codes to contain the outbreak. The technology itself is part of everyday life in China, thanks to WeChat. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that a type of QR code was built from the ground up for risk assessment.
By filling in a form, citizens are then provided a color-based QR code with their health status. A green QR code signifies that the person can enter a public space. Yellow and red QR code porters, on the other hand, which represent people returning from affected countries and patients or suspected cases, respectively, are advised to isolate instead.
Other countries around the world are starting to incorporate QR codes to the same effect. Others are using technology to allow people to pay for products or services without any physical contact. In other words, to encourage contactless payment. Some notable examples include Tehran’s quest to digitize its economy and Ghana’s universal mobile payment initiative, both of which rely on QR codes.
QR codes are the number one tool that makes contactless interactions possible and, most importantly, safe.
Thankfully, technology has been around for quite some time now; we didn’t have to create something new. Also, smartphones and browsers already have built-in scanning capabilities. All we need to do is to think outside the box and expand QR codes’ potential.
And speaking of potential, let’s go over some of the best QR code practices:
QR code types and applications
Coronavirus QR codes
The first QR code type worth discussing is actually the latest and most important one: Coronavirus QR code. The idea behind it is to provide a sense of safety and security for anyone who wants to access a specific environment. This type of QR code, much like the one used in China, is linked to a health check-up form. COVID-19 QR code can be used for:
- Workplaces: grant access to your employees based on their responses.
- Businesses: keep your restaurant, supermarket, hotel, retail store, or mall risk-free.
- Hospitals: filter between visitors who have queries from patients that need to be treated.
- Residential: protect your loved ones and help them defend themselves.
Coronavirus QR code is basically a contactless self-declaration form. It can be used to filter visits, evaluate risk level or, worst-case scenario, contact trace in the event of an outbreak.
You can choose the type form that suits your needs, design it, and place it on entries. You can create your own COVID-19 QR code for FREE here.
Contact QR codes
Since the virus can linger on surfaces for hours, contact information has to be “handed” in a different format. Enter these three unique types of QR codes:
- vCard QR codes: a digital business card to put it simply. You can insert your full contact information, upload a profile picture, and have your target audience add you to their smartphone’s address books.
Whatsapp QR codes: an excellent option for today’s doctors who want their patients to reach out to them via chat whenever they have questions or worries.
Social links QR codes: businesses that offer delivery services often have a plethora of social media profiles to engage their target audience. Scanning a QR code to a list of links to each one of them can boost their particular activity with likes, followers, comments, and more.
App stores QR codes
Delivery services of food and other goods such as DoorDah and Uber Eats are helping restaurants and general stores to continue operating. They follow contactless guidelines to ensure that the products ordered are delivered safely to customers.
The majority of us use our smartphones to order up; we open the app, select a meal, a payment method, and that’s that. But what if you don’t have the app?
Well, businesses can create and use App stores QR codes. If the app is available for Android and iOS, people will be redirected to the store that matches the smartphone used to scan the QR code.
Menu QR codes
The impact of the pandemic won’t end once the countries’ own quarantines are lifted. The new normal to go out for a drink or to a concert will include checkpoints and health forms to ensure that public places are safe.
Restaurants, for example, can have QR codes on the tables with a menu to view (Mobile page QR codes) or to download (Download file QR codes) when scanning it. This will provide distance between customers and waiters, keeping both parties healthy.
Each type of QR code has its benefits:
- Mobile page QR codes can be fully customized; you can insert text, images of your meals and even links to payment methods.
- Download file QR codes allow the menu to be downloaded, which is a great way to add value to the experience. For example, if a customer downloads the menu, they can get a discount on the next meal.
Payment QR codes
Mobile payment goes hand in hand with the concept of contactless payment.
Initially, the idea was to make the purchasing process more accessible and secure. Now, one can argue that it is a matter of staying safe. Paying with cash can be considered a risk. Although credit and debit cards are the encouraged payment methods, the plastic can carry the virus as well.
That is why QR codes to purchase products or services are a must.
PayPal QR codes allow you to link them to your PayPal account to receive payments instantly.
Multi-country links QR codes
Since QR codes can be geolocated, they can point to a specific content based on the location where it was scanned.
Companies or hospitals that have several franchises or centers around the world can benefit from the use of Multi-country links QR codes. They are linked to a list of URLs and countries. Depending on where they are scanned, the respective URL loads up. This is crucial to facilitate access to information in different languages.
QR codes: past, present and future
What makes QR codes unique? Is it the fact that they can be redirected to any type of online digital content? Or that dynamic ones can have their content changed without having to reprint them? Maybe that they include statistical data that can be tracked and measured?
Well, the answer is all of the above and more. But the most essential characteristic that makes QR codes unique is that they can keep us connected. They not only bridge the gap between the physical and the digital world; they also link us together, providing instant access to all what we need.
QR codes have helped us in the past, they are doing so now, standing by social distancing and contactless interactions. They will continue to help us once Coronavirus passes. Because this too shall pass. Stay safe.