How QR codes have revolutionised small businesses in India

In the era of digital transformation, QR codes have become ubiquitous, extending their reach from high-tech businesses to the most unexpected corners of everyday life. The once-exclusive domain of corporate marketing and technological advancements has now trickled down to the street-side coconut vendor, symbolizing a truly inclusive and accessible digital revolution.
QR codes for everyone
Originally designed for inventory tracking in the automotive industry, QR codes have evolved beyond their intended use, finding applications in marketing, payments, and everyday life. The simplicity and versatility of QR codes make them an ideal tool for businesses of all sizes.
In the final stretch of this digital journey, small businesses have wholeheartedly embraced QR codes for various purposes:

Contactless payments: Small-time businessmen have adopted QR codes for digital payments, simplifying transactions and meeting the growing demand for contactless options.
Menu access and promotions: Even local street food vendors now use QR codes to provide digital access to menus, promotional offers, and discounts. This tech-savvy approach enhances the customer experience and creates new opportunities for engagement.
Customer reviews and feedback: Real-time reviews and feedback help improve services and fosters a loyal customer base.
Navigating COVID-19 Challenges: During the pandemic, QR codes played a crucial role in contact tracing and health declarations. Street-side vendors adapted swiftly, implementing QR codes to collect necessary customer information, contributing to public safety efforts.

Digital divide narrows
The adoption of QR codes by small businesses signifies a closing of the digital divide. Technology, once perceived as inaccessible, has become democratized through the simplicity and cost-effectiveness of QR codes. Even the smallest enterprises can now leverage technology for their benefit.
QR code transactions
Over the past year, Point of Sale (PoS) terminals expanded by 44 per cent, reaching 8.09 million, while Bharat QR codes (BQRs) increased by 21% to reach 5.69 million. Notably, UPI QR codes witnessed a remarkable 79% growth, reaching 272 million, showcasing widespread integration across diverse businesses and sectors.
The top 10 states for transactions in 2022, recorded by Worldline India, include Maharashtra, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Delhi, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, and West Bengal. Leading UPI apps such as PhonePe, Google Pay, and Paytm have dominated both transaction volume and value.
Cross-border payments
In the last quarter, UPI transactions positioned India among the top nations in cross-border payments. According to the World Bank, India’s remittances reached approximately US$100 billion in 2022, surpassing China and Mexico.
QR codes and the future of small businesses
As QR codes seamlessly integrate into everyday commerce, the future holds promise for small businesses. Looking forward, collaboration between Small Finance Banks and small enterprises in harnessing QR codes’ potential is poised to redefine the landscape, propelling financial inclusion and catalyzing digital transformation.
In conclusion
The journey of QR codes from corporate boardrooms to street-side coconut vendors exemplifies the democratization of technology. In the smallest corners of urban life, QR codes are not just symbols of convenience but powerful tools driving business efficiency, customer engagement, and, most importantly, inclusivity in the digital age.
The author is COO- Business Banking and Digital Consumer Banking, Fincare SFB. Views expressed in the above piece are personal and solely that of the author. They do not necessarily reflect Firstpost’s views.
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