NeoMedia CEO speaks out against mobile barcode slowdown

Marriott dubs QR codes the future of mobile commerce

Mobile barcode adoption has not taken off as rapidly in the United States as some analysts had predicted two or three years ago, but that hasn't discouraged mobile marketers and multi-national corporations from implementing QR codes and other 2D barcodes into their mobile strategies.

laura marriott


NeoMedia CEO Laura Marriott, for one, isn't worried. "It [mobile barcode adoption] definitely has not been as a fast as we would have hoped, particularly when we look at the last couple of years," she said, noting that 2012 and early 2013 have seen an uptick in QR code awareness. Marriott, a former president of the Mobile Marketing Association, cited data that 47 percent of consumes now recognize what a QR code is. "Ninety-five percent of the codes that you see today are QR codes. Consumers understand what they are and are recognizing them."

Marriott added that brands like Progressive, Chase and Visa are all implementing QR codes into their marketing initiatives or as a path to purchase. Last month, NeoMedia granted Progressive a non-exclusive license to its patents related to mobile barcode resolution. "We're seeing a huge increase in the number of companies that are licensing that intellectual property," she said. "These companies have significant commitments in mobile barcodes, and it's a nice reassertion in where this industry is headed."

QR codes have seen some traction in the mobile payments space, most notably with Starbucks. Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz this week announced that the company's smartphone app, which allows users to pay for items by scanning mobile barcodes, boasts seven million users and processes two million purchases per week.

"I think using QR codes is the future of mobile commerce," said Marriott. "NFC and QR codes can definitely coexist together. Getting them [NFC-enabled devices] in the hands of consumers is an expensive process." She added, "For QR codes you can pay once and not have an incremental cost" for printing additional codes.

As for why mobile barcode adoption in countries like Japan has happened far more quickly, Marriott credits cooperation among Japanese mobile operators to create open standards and universal readers. 

"QR codes had a tough start in the U.S. because there is a lot of fragmentation in the market and consumer confusion," she said. Marriott pointed to new efforts like the Quick Response (QR) Encoding for Consumer Bill Pay Guidelines from the Council for Electronic Billing and Payment, issued in December, as ways the mobile barcode industry is becoming more standardized.

Related articles:
Report: User interaction with mobile barcodes skyrockets
comScore: 14M Americans scanned mobile barcodes in June
Bank of America spurns NFC for QR codes with new mobile payments pilot 
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