NFC vs QR Code – Which Is Better?

Both NFC and QR Code technology offers convenience to end users as well as marketers. They both aim to ease the process of getting information. However, they do it in different ways and there are several differences between these two technologies that need to be highlighted.

This article will help you understand the basics of each technology, what each technology aims to do and how it does it, and which one is better.

QR Codes: QR Code (abbreviated from Quick Response Code) is a two-dimensional geometric barcode created by Denso Wave in 1994 which has been gaining popularity for mobile marketing due to its wide use in Japan. It was named “QR code” because its inventor’s company’s name (Denso) starts with the letter Q and also from “Quick Response” which, as you know, is a very important factor in marketing.

QR Code can store URL address optional text and numeric data. It is best used for storing URLs where users can open it with their mobile devices’ web browser. The data encoded also varies from industry to industry.

Examples of QR Code use in Marketing:

-In mobile marketing, where marketers provide different offers depending on users’ location and advertise their products through the mobile phone.

-“Loyalty Card” or “Transaction Coupon” – Marketers can insert coupons or points to be used at their store by using QR Codes. Customers can easily scan the code and receive information or discount for their next purchase.

-Infrastructure – QR Codes are now being used in internet of things, where objects have an unique identifier which is read by a mobile phone application to access related data.

NFC: Near Field Communication (NFC) is a set of communication protocols which enables two electronic devices to establish connection when they are brought close together, usually up to 4 cm. NFC was mainly conceived for short-distance communication such as smart poster papers where marketers can transmit information about their products very conveniently. This technology works on electromagnetic field induction which enables data transfer between devices in close proximity.

NFC tag is composed of an NFC chip and an antenna. The NFC chip can store small amount of data, mostly in the form of text or URIs (Uniform Resource Identifier). Marketers use this technology to advertise their products, transfer information about sales promotion among different devices, perform financial transaction such as ticketing, and also as an authentication method for users to use mobile applications.

How Do They Work?

QR Code: QR Codes can be printed on paper or objects using any printable material like inkjet printers, laser printers, thermal printers etc. Mobile phone with a camera is used to read the QR code and the user uses the mobile phone’s built-in browser to access the related information.

NFC: NFC tags are stickers or small plastic cards embedded with an NFC chip and an antenna which also serve as labels for objects (like product barcodes) where marketers can place this sticker on their products. When they are brought close to each other, they create an electromagnetic field which is detected by phones and transmitted data.

Differences: QR Code vs NFC

QR Codes cannot store large amounts of text and data compared to NFC tags, however this technology does not require a mobile phone for reading the code. This means marketers do not need to worry about which phone their customers are using, unlike NFC tags which can be read by only compatible devices. QR Codes are not limited to smartphones only, any mobile phone with a camera will do the job instead of the more expensive smartphone.

NFC Tags on the other hand can store more data since they are bigger in size compared to QR codes and they also have more memory capacity.

The biggest difference is when determining how these technologies can be used.

Marketers use QR Code scanner apps in their mobile devices to read the code and get information of a product or a brand’s latest promotion. For NFC tags, marketers need a specific NFC tag reader app to transfer data from the sticker into their mobile devices wirelessly. Moreover, as mentioned above QR Codes can be read by any camera-enabled mobile phone whereas NFC tags require NFC-compatible phones for data transfer.

Marketers need to keep in mind that although this technology is very similar and both can provide a lot of marketing benefits for brands, they should choose the appropriate one according to their business goals, strategies and customers.

    1. Even though these technologies are similar, they do not compete with each other since their use cases vary according to what marketers want to achieve for their brands. QR Codes scan by camera-enabled phone whereas NFC tags don’t require a smartphone for data transfer.
    2. Marketers can use both technologies to create awareness about their products and engage new customers. For example, when people come across QR Codes they scan them to get more information on the product or brands’ latest promotion via scanning apps in their mobile devices. As for NFC tags, if marketers place them on the back of an advertisement brochure they can transfer text data into smartphones wirelessly for their customers to get more information on the product.
    3. People can interact with QR Codes and NFC tags when they come across them in different circumstances such as billboards, magazines, banners etc. For example, an ad banner is placed somewhere and there is a QR Code printed on it instead of simply showing the website address or phone number of the brand. Users can scan the code with their mobile device to access a website or directly dial a number on their phone if they want more information about a product or a brand’s latest promotion.
    4. These technologies can be used both online and offline to engage users for marketers’ products and brands, thus creating sales opportunities for businesses to expand their businesses.
    5. QR Codes and NFC tags can be used as media for brand awareness, customer interaction and sales promotions. However, marketers should know how each technology works and which one will suit their purposes according to what they want to achieve for their brands.
    6. Marketers scan it or use a QR Code Reader app in their mobile devices to read QR Code; whereas marketers can transfer text data from an NFC tag into a smartphone wirelessly.
A self-driven professional with more than 5+ years of experience in diverse realms of online marketing, with proven expertise in Search Engine Optimisation. Offering SEO, PPC, E-MAIL Marketing freelance services. To know more contact me.





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