The humble QR code was invented all the way back in 1994 by a team led by Masahiro Hara at a Japanese firm Denso Wave. The codes were used to replace universal product code barcodes (the lines you find on most, if not all retail products) in automotive manufacturing.
We bring this history of the QR code to you because local payment platform Zapper has announced a novel way it’s using QR codes at Dis-Chem.
When the chance to work with Dis-Chem arose, Zapper needed to solve a rather complex problem. The firm needed to share a QR code with a customer so that they could make a payment. While generally this might entail dropping a display off at the retailer that shares a QR code with the customer, this is, as you can imagine, a costly exercise.
Once you start dealing with a retail chain as big as Dis-Chem (which as 195 stores at time of writing), the costs go up a lot.
So why not print out the QR code before printing the receipt? As Dis-Chem would have to print the codes at point of sale, that might not be attractive to the firm.
So Zapper needed to think of something else and We have to admit, it’s rather clever.
“Each till is fitted with a unique static QR code. When a customer asks to pay by Zapper, the cashier generates the total on the till, the invoice is instantly uploaded to the Zapper hosted service and, when the customer scans the code at that particular till point with a Zapper-enabled app, the app will automatically fetch the invoice and display the appropriate bill amount, debiting the customer’s linked card when they tap pay and the till receiving confirmation of payment. All of this with no need for any manual input by the shopper,” chief executive officer at Zapper, Brett White explained to Hypertext in an email.
The solution is just so beautiful in its simplicity. For one, this removes the need for an additional display to show a customer a QR code or the need to print a code at point of sale.
As you might expect, Zapper has patented this solution.
What this means for QR codes in South Africa is that with a static code, smaller retailers won’t have to pay for a secondary display, dynamic QR code PIN entry machines or have to carry the cost of printing out QR codes.
“Retailers have to bear significant monthly costs when it comes to their regular pin entry machines. We wanted to ensure that merchants of any size are able to get all the benefits of the Zapper solution without the long, complicated and costly integration which only the largest retailers would ordinarily be prepared to endure,” explains White.
“With just a simple placard or sticker at each till, customers are made aware that they can checkout using their favourite mobile payment method. From start to finish, this solution was designed for maximum ease of use, which customers really appreciate, as do the merchants,” added the CEO.
With contactless payment solutions becoming increasingly popular due to social distancing precautions, this is great news for smaller businesses looking for a way to offer payments through Zapper.
This also goes to show that even when something as old as QR codes can be improved upon if you mix it with a bit of modern technology and a clever idea.