- Written by Nathan Drake
It’s funny, considering the fact that there are hundreds if not thousands of people who have read my work as though I were some kind of expert, but when I saw QR codes for the first time, I thought I had seen the pinnacle of our capabilities with mobile marketing. It’s not that I couldn’t imagine the some future technology performing a similar task, just that it would do so differently, not better.
Well, it’s official, I’m not an expert. I’m just a writer who writes clearly enough to help people understand complex ideas. Proof that we’re all just guessing here. What doesn’t seem to be a guess, at least not to me, is that NFC will one day overtake NFC as the mobile marketing method of choice.
But what’s the difference between NFC and QR codes? Well, for one, you’ve probably seen QR codes. They are the square designs with small black and white squares within them. You can scan them with your phones and it will direct your phone to a website. The website will usually feature a coupon or some other type of information. Basically, that’s it. You scan a QR code… you go to a website.
With NFC, you can do this as well, minus scanning a QR code. You put your phone close to the NFC enabled device and it will direct your phone to do a particular task or download information. What makes NFC the new darling of mobile marketers is that it can do so much more. Whereas the type of information a QR code will carry is not able to be changed, NFC devices with antennas can change the information they are going to send out, provided it is allowed to do so. Therefore, if an NFC chip is within a poster or other promotional device the company using it has little need to change the type of information it carries. However, if the chip is in a phone or other mobile device, a device capable of carrying many pieces of information, the chip is in this case capable of having the information it transfers changed on a moment’s notice.
One of the major reasons NFC is bound to take over where QR codes leave off is the very important feature of being able to hold your credit card information and allow you to pay with it. It can broadcast your information to an NFC reader at a retailer and use that information to complete a transaction. A QR code might be able to do this, if we all carried QR codes with our banking information encoded within them, but there are many reasons this is not a viable option. First, the information that would need to be stored on the QR code would likely exceed the amount of information a QR code can carry. Second, and more importantly, the reason NFC will take off as a method of payment is that it is as secure a method as any, if not more secure. To carry a QR code with such sensitive information would be inviting criminals to take advantage.