China is leading in Mobile First Strategy with QR Code

Mar 7, 2017

QR code (abbreviated from Quick Response Code) was first invented for the automotive industry in Japan. It was patented by Denso Wave, a division of Toyota but everyone can use freely as long as they follow the standard for QR codes. When first introduced across various mobile devices, it was thought to be a hit for mobile marketing and mobile first strategy. The reason is intuitive, you need a phone to scan a QR code, hence mobile first.

Google is definitely championing mobile first strategy with its announcement of mobile-first index. For those who are not familiar with “mobile-first” index, it simply implies that your website should appear prettier with better user experience under mobile than desktop for the purpose of search engine optimization (SEO). This move makes perfect sense after reading through Alphabet’s annual report. Google has experienced revenue growth in 2016 primarily due to increase in mobile search and “shift to mobile” has been mentioned a few times in the annual report.

Despite this drastic move, is Google the champion of mobile first? No, it is not Facebook either.

The updated version of Google Chrome app allows iOS devices with 3D Touch to scan QR code directly from the app. Facebook has also rolled out a function under Messenger to allow users to scan each other’s code for texting. However, these are exisiting features of Wechat since ages ago, literally.

Yes. China is definitely the leader in mobile first with QR code technology as its centrepiece, led by Tencent’s adoption in WeChat since 2012. While the rest of the world got their mobile payment through Apple Pay and Android Pay from 2015 and is still slowly adapting to it, China was already actively paying with Wechat pay on mobile. It features a WeChat Wallet where users can tap to generate a QR Code for the store to scan. No credit card terminals needed in the store, just a mobile phone. Stepping into China, you will notice QR codes pervasively used everywhere and frequently in O2O (offline-to-online) activities from making payment at mom-and-pop stores, ticketing for concerts, collecting delivery orders to following someone’s social media.

If China envisions mobile strategy correctly, we will see a rise of QR code usage around the world soon. Either online or offline, companies should use QR code to automate its operations while marketers should use it for their marketing campaigns.


(Opinion by Epitomist)