Just as barcodes allow machines to read data from items in stores, QR codes are a barcode-like vector between online and offline information. QR codes can be easily accessed by any phone in the world that has a camera. They enable everything from online to offline (O2O) marketplaces, which are huge in China.
#1 Use a QR code to follow a WeChat Business/Brand Account
Customers - WeChat allows users to follow a Business/Brand account upon scanning (use the built-in QR scanner). QR codes aren’t just used online, but also in a store or on business cards to save you typing in a URL.
Businesses - Followers of the WeChat Business/Brand accounts can be sent a limited number of messages per month, usually product info and promotions.
Figure: A QR on a Microsoft’s newsletter, it allows customers to scan and follow the business account.
Figure: The WeChat app can scan the QR code, then allow the customer to click the follow button. They will then receive regular updates.
#2 Use a QR code to share WeChat contact information
All WeChat users get their own customized QR code. It can be shown for anyone else to scan, or shared.
Note: QR codes can be scanned by tapping and hold on it on screen.
Figure: Customized WeChat’s personal QR code by change style
Figure: Tap and hold on a QR image to extract a QR code
#3 Use a QR code to receive money in Alipay
Alipay allows users to receive funds via QR code without adding the payee as a contact.
Users create a QR code for payer to scan and pay.
Figure: How to show your “Pay-me” QR code on Alipay
#4 Use a QR code to make a payment offline by using WeChat and Alipay
Making a payment to an offline merchant can be done via QR code.
Once your total has been rung up, show your “Pay Vendor” QR code for the merchant to scan and pay.
Figure: How to show your “Pay Vendor” QR code on WeChat
Figure: How to show your “Pay Vendor” QR code on Alipay
#5 Use a QR code to check product history and verification
QR codes are used for linking information such as supply and manufacture dates on the side of the packaging.
Figure: Use WeChat to scan the QR code and view product information in a supermarket.
#6 Use a QR code to install apps
Companies are using QR codes to distribute Apps to download and install. It is easier than putting a link on ads or asking customers to search in App stores.
Figure: A government-sponsored billboard in Hangzhou showcasing apps for tourists
#7 Use a QR code to sign-up and login websites
Some websites offer login using WeChat’s Third-party authentication API - simply use WeChat to scan their QR code.
Figure: use WeChat to sign-up and login to Zhihu (A Chinese Quora replacement)
Some social networks can also offer login by scanning a QR code using the network’s own app instead of entering a user name and a password.
Figure: use Weibo App to scan a QR code to login their services on the web.
#8 Use a QR code to connect a hotspot
Wi-Fi via WeChat is a feature for businesses and public places offering free Wi-Fi hotspots to their customers. It’s a common service in China. Rather than having to find the publicly posted Wi-Fi password, users can log in quickly using their WeChat accounts.
Figure: how to connect to a public hotspot
#9 Use a QR code to ride a bus or subway
You can use QR codes to ride a bus or subway in most main cities in China.
For example, to ride a bus using Alipay QR code in Hangzhou:
You have to apply for a virtual bus card and use the card when you are boarding a bus.
Figure: how to ride a bus using the Alipay QR code in Hangzhou
Figure: Presenting your QR code to a bus scanner.
#10 Use a QR code to unlock a Sharing-Bike
You can rent a Bike in China by scanning a QR code on a Share-Bike.
For example, to rent a Hellobike:
Figure: how to rent a Hellobike using the Alipay App
Note: Make sure you have funds available in your Alipay account.