Apple Pay Adds QR Code Feature for Payments

Apple Pay users will soon be able to use a feature in the Wallet app that will allow them to make payments by simply scanning a QR code.

The new payment method would no longer be dependent on near field communication (NFC), the wireless data feature that enables card reading devices to communicate.

Since Apple Pay was launched, it has relied on NFC and an iPhone located near the NFC payment terminal to make a contactless purchase within brick-and-mortar stores. While these types of transactions are now considered routine, Apple is developing an alternative method for letting users make payments with Apple Pay by scanning a QR or a traditional barcode with an iPhone camera. When a user scans the code in-store, it instructs the Wallet app to perform the transaction with Apple Pay’s servers over the user’s cellular network. Apple refers to this as “optical coupling”.

The advantage of this type of transaction is there is no direct communication of sensitive data between the user’s device and the retailer’s platform. The use of this technology will remain dependent upon the retailer having NFC card readers. While QR codes have been around for many years, their use never really took off until COVID-19 hit. The novel coronavirus has seen a new purpose in providing touchless commerce and transactions.

Walmart has modified its Walmart Pay app to process QR codes and go totally touchless. PayPal introduced QR codes in May to 28 markets worldwide, with transaction fees waived for QR code sales.

In a survey of more than 16,000 consumers on how their shopping habits and payments preferences have changed since the pandemic, 2,163 respondents shared their increased appetite for online commerce and digital touchless methods, such as QR codes, contactless cards, and digital wallets. These desires are poised to shape the post-pandemic economy.

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