Advancements in contactless technology has led businesses to search for the best solution that encourages offline to online customer interactions. QR codes and NFC tags are the most debated and discussed subjects in this regard.
What they are
Quick Response (QR) codes are two-dimensional barcodes. They can store a lot more information than the ubiquitous UPC or EPC codes we see marking grocery and retail products. First used for keeping track of automotive parts, they are now predominantly being used in advertising campaigns, directing customers to websites to provide more information about an item and allowing it to be purchased. They are also being used to send emails, give out coupon codes, and deliver information about historical sites.
Near Field Communication (NFC) is a radio-frequency technology that allows the transmission of data between an NFC tag and NFC-enabled device. NFC tags can basically do what QR codes are being used for and more because they use embedded chips. Currently, NFC tags are being mostly used for processing payments and for social media promotions.
Comparing NFC tags and QR codes
1. Investment cost.
QR codes can be generated by anyone. Free online QR code generation sites abound on the internet. A plethora of apps are likewise available for download for iOS, Android, and Microsoft mobile devices. Printing and distribution costs depend largely on the volume and the size of the QR codes.
NFC tags needs to have chips encoded. This therefore costs more because you have to send over your tag design to a company that can encode NFC chips and embed them in posters, signs, and other materials.
As mentioned above, QR codes can be produced by anyone at any time. While there are also apps for making your own NFC tags, physically creating them yourself can be quite prohibitive because the microchips and aerials are not easy that easy to procure as of this writing. It is best to hire an NFC specialist company to make them for you.
NFC tags are more convenient than QR codes. People need to use their device’s camera to capture a QR code and launch an app. Proper lighting and correct alignment is also essential. NFC tags on the other hand just require a “tap” from NFC-enabled smartphones.
Again, QR Codes lead in this area because anybody can make them and use them. The number of NFC supported smartphones and tablets however are catching up. In addition, many transportation and payment services have started using NFC.
For those in the ID and label printing industry, Zebra has come out with Print Touch, an app that can be used for printing receipts and tags with Zebra printers that have NFC stickers.
QR code customization is limited by its readability requirements. A QR code must be visible for scanning and the colors used must be dark enough to be read.
NFC tags offer complete freedom when it comes to design. You also have the option to completely hide the tag. This helps you maximize your poster ads and promote your product and company brand more visibly.
QR codes can be scanned and used by everyone, including criminals. Hackers can create QR codes for phishing and can direct users to malicious links that download Trojans and viruses. The main purpose of QR codes is to make information more accessible. Although the information can be encrypted so that only intended users can access them, it is much more advisable to not use them if security is a primary concern.
NFC uses encryption readily, especially for payment transactions. Moreover, the read range for communication between the tag and reader is only a few centimeters, discouraging most hackers from intercepting data transmissions.
7. Post-production changes.
No modifications to QR codes are possible after having them printed and published. If changes are needed for a code, generating a new one and printing it again is necessary.
NFC chips can be reprogrammed anytime by the owner. This is a huge plus because it saves you a lot from having to reprint the tag and putting them up again.
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