What are QR codes and how to use them?

Published: 08 July, 2022

What are QR codes and how to use them?  

Since the Covid-19 pandemic, QR codes have become more common in daily life. QR codes were first used in 1994 but, were not really used commonly until 2011. QR code stands for Quick Response Code and is a square barcode which holds information, from emails and phone numbers to booking confirmation for an event. When the barcode is scanned the data from the code is translated back into readable data for humans. 

QR codes can be found almost everywhere now, so much so, that you probably see one every day. They are often on billboards, menus, on tickets and more recently they are on some television adverts. They essentially make life easier as it means that the stored information can be relayed to a person more easily. 


Common uses for QR codes 

QR codes are extremely useful, especially as they hold all sorts of data in a small space. They can be used to store tickets to events, links to websites and passwords to things such as Wi-Fi.  


  • Tickets: Whether it be a train or plane ticket or tickets to the cinema or concerts, QR codes will store the data that shows the confirmation of the purchase of the ticket and once scanned will automatically show the person or machine scanning that the ticket is real.  
  • Links: Another use of QR codes is links to apps or websites. When the code is scanned a website or app will, linked will load on the screen. In the example of restaurants, the way that a person can viewing the menu, order and pay can be condensed into one QR code. Once the person has scanned the QR code and ordered, the payment process will be made easier as you can pay by contactless payment or imputing card details by hand. 
  • Passwords: A third use of QR codes is to log in to public Wi-Fi or log in to public systems. The QR code makes the whole process of logging in easier as you don’t need to find the Wi-Fi network in settings or type in a web address. However, using a public Wi-Fi may not always be completely secure, so follow this link for some tips and tricks to keep yourself and your passwords secure 


QR Codes and Digital Identity 

Alongside these examples, the QR code plays an important role in the growing concept of digital identity. The concept of mobile identity is already growing, and soon it will become common place for users to prove their identity via their smartphone. A few examples of this already in action include:  

  • Covid-19 passes: During the height of the pandemic, QR codes were issued to prove vaccination status. 
  • Mobile payments: Sync your bank card with your online digital ID wallet to seamlessly pay for goods and services via a QR code 


How do I scan a QR code? 

QR codes are easy to scan, all you need is a smartphone. On some phones there is an app automatically installed to scan the code, some will need to have one installed and on others the camera can be used. To scan, hold your phone over the code and the link will open and allow you to use whatever information you have scanned. Some phones ask if you’d like to open the app or link and others will just open it for you.  


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