Worldwide Increase in QR Code Usage Amid Covid-19

The usefulness of QR codes is nothing new to us here at Donater.

Right from the beginning, we’ve been intent on bringing affordable digital technology to charitable organisations to enable them to take their fundraising online. QR codes have been a brilliant way to do this.

QR code technology has been around for a while – We’ve written many previous blogs on this which you can read here. Since the beginning of the pandemic, QR code usage has risen rapidly due to the urgent need for contactless interactions across various industries.

From the contact tracing Covid app itself, used for checking into pubs and cafes, to ordering food and drink via online menus – QR codes have popped up everywhere.

What is a QR code and how does it work?

A QR code is short for Quick Response code. It is a 2D barcode that can be read on your smartphone, making it the perfect contactless technology you can use in the palm of your hand. It was first created in Japan in 1994 in the automotive industry, but is now widely used for taking contactless payments.

QR codes took a while to catch on

A recent report has shared the prevalence of QR code use both before and after the pandemic, looking at how the trends in the use of this valuable technology have changed.

Despite QR codes beginning to be used more widely around 2010, they weren’t all that accessible to the masses.

Smartphones were not as widespread back then, and even if you did have one, you needed a specific app to be able to use your phone as a QR code reader.

By 2014, only 26% of UK respondents answered ‘yes’ to having used their mobile device to scan a QR code.

Use of QR codes during 2015 in Europe was minimal, with most QR code interaction being within retail settings. QR code usage was higher among millennials, who were also more likely to own and use a smartphone often.

Has the use of QR codes increased globally since Covid?

Since it’s existence 26 years ago, many companies tried to adopt QR code technology, but didn’t seem to get very far with it. Now, following the pandemic, QR codes are a familiar bit of technology across the globe in a range of industries.

Originally providing the technology for contactless contact tracing in an attempt to stop the spread of the virus, the practicality of QR codes quickly spread to other sectors other than health.

According to a study, in September 2020 less then 15% respondents had had no contact with QR codes, with over 30% having used one within that week. The growth of QR code technology was exponential over the course of last year, and we’re only expecting it to continue.

In Italy, for example, museums and cultural sites use QR codes for interactive content and contactless learning. In 2020, over 30% of Italian museums, galleries and cultural institutions were already using QR code technology with over 40% planning to provide it in the future.

17.8% of European mobile users scanned a QR code in 2020, and this year QR code usage in Europe is at 10.1 million.

Initially, QR code technology was used as part of the contact tracing element to the Covid app. Patrons of pubs, restaurants and cafes are asked to check-in using the venues QR code so that they can be easily traced and contacted should they come into contact with a positive case.

But companies soon saw the potential of this technology and how useful it would be to keep things as contactless as possible – And subsequently protect their business and customers.

Which industry sectors are using QR codes the most now?

QR codes aren’t just useful for health apps and contact tracing. They’ve proved themselves a worthy tool for various industries trying to survive the pandemic.


The pubs, restaurants and cafes that were able to re-open adapted to the new restrictions and kept things contactless by using QR codes for a number of business operations.

Not only did they have QR codes for checking in and contact tracing, but QR codes on the tables also meant that patrons could scan the code, download an app, view a menu and order food and drinks from their table. Not only does this keep contact between staff and customers at a minimum, it also hugely helps with staffing at a time when table service was the only option.

Hotels also seem to be investing in QR code technology for contact tracing purposes, but also to enhance their guest experience. QR codes are so versatile and offer so much scope for contactless interaction with customers.


Entertainment venues such as cinemas, theatres and festival venues can give their customers a more interactive experience through the use of QR codes.

Not only that, but they can be very specific when it comes to contact tracing. For example, particular seats or areas in a cinema, theatre or festival could have their own QR codes so that people aren’t pinged by someone who was actually nowhere near them.


The fast-moving consumer goods industry has used QR code technology for a while across the world. QR codes offer an inexpensive, package level, smart packing solution.

An excellent example of utilising QR codes on packaging is when Heinz used it on their recyclable packets. Customers could scan the QR code and see what that packaging was doing for the environment. This is something more and more consumers are getting passionate about, and QR codes are an easy way of interacting with customers on big issues.


We’re consistently amazed with the ingenuity of some businesses when it comes to using QR codes. One UK boutique uses QR codes in their window display. Passers by can scan the code through the window and are taken to said item on the boutique website. An ingenious idea – Especially when shops had to close during the worst part of Covid and lockdown.

Are more businesses becoming interested in using QR code technology?

The short answer is yes, and they have been for a while. QR codes and other relevant terms have seen a gradual increase when it comes to Google search trends.

By the end of 2019 and into 2020, the volume of QR code related searches on Google rose rapidly, and seems to be continuing to climb.

QR codes are much more visible to us all. Many people are now accustomed to seeing them and using them in their day to day lives. So it makes sense that more and more businesses and charities are looking at how QR codes can help keep operations contactless and even make them money.

How can a Donater QR code help your charity to raise money?

Here at Donater, we’re passionate about providing charities with an affordable way to introduce digital infrastructure to their fundraising initiatives and help them to raise more money online.

Research suggests that there will continue to be a rise in QR code use, expecting a 22% increase between now and 2025. This isn’t just about contact tracing – QR codes are a ground-breaking tech tool worldwide. QR codes could be just the thing to help businesses and charities move forward again after the pandemic.

We’ve all become more accustomed to QR codes with the NHS Covid app, so you’ll know how quick and easy it is to scan one with your smartphone. QR codes can be just as handy for taking donations. All your supporter has to do is scan the QR code with their smartphone, and it will take you to an online donation page. Once there, they can choose to donate with a tap via Google Pay or Apple Pay, or pay with their bank details. QR codes are also a great addition to any physical marketing for events and fundraisers, such as posters or newsletters.

If you’re interested in introducing this affordable, straightforward bit of fundraising technology to your charity or organisation, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. We’ve long seen the benefits of QR code technology for digital fundraising – Let us tell you why.

For more information, facts and figures about QR codes amid Covid, head here: https://www.qrcode-tiger.com/qr-code-statistics-before-and-after-covid-19?msID=9b9bc68c-4481-477a-b627-40f5c7ca5d4d

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