New Tencent Report Reveals the Power of the QR Code

Jan 16, 2020 7:01:31 AM | Lauren Hallanan

Here at Chatly we’re not shy about our love of QR codes. Over the past 10 years, thanks to WeChat, QR codes have undeniably become an integral part of life in China. Without QR codes, the growth of the WeChat and its core components - Official Accounts, mini programs, and WeChat Pay, would have been dramatically impeded. WeChat may not have developed into the all-encompassing operating system-like ecosystem that it is today.

QR codes are the connectors between the various parts of WeChat as well as the connectors between offline and online. People scan QR codes to add each other on WeChat, follow Official Accounts, enter mini programs, make payments, get more information about the product they just bought, join a group, and much, much more.

But while any WeChat user can inherently grasp the importance of QR codes, just how big is their impact?

Last week during Tencent’s 2020 WeChat Open Class PRO event in Guangzhou, WeChat launched its first research report about the significant use and economic influence of QR codes in China titled “The Power of the QR Code - The WeChat Economic Impact Report 2020.” The report provides a wealth of data showing just how ingrained this little piece of technology has become in modern Chinese society.

Here we’ll share some of the key highlights from the report:


What Tencent Calls the “QR Code Economy”

As mentioned above, QR codes link all aspects of WeChat: things (products bought with WeChat Pay), people (personal accounts and Official Accounts), and services (mini programs). Therefore, all of the business generated by WeChat is part of what Tencent has dubbed the QR Code Economy.


PowerofQRCode_Chatly_1QR codes connect products, people, and services.


For non-WeChat users, or those who haven’t used WeChat as part of their daily lives in China, it may be hard to grasp just how frequently QR codes are used. This graphic below does an excellent job of illustrating the QR code economy.


PowerofQRCode_Chatly_2QR codes link the entire Wechat ecosystem, creating what Tencent has dubbed the “QR code economy”.


The Impact of The QR Code Economy on Offline Businesses

The report found that QR codes improve the efficiency of offline businesses, having the most dramatic effect on the transportation, medical, offline retail, and hospitality industries.




Some key data points for top industries:



  • Every minute, over 100,000 people use WeChat Pay to pay for transportation.
  • Offering the ability for people to scan a QR code to enter a subway station has been shown to 300X the stations’ operating efficiency.



  • QR codes have been shown to 10X hospital operating efficiency.
  • Over 60% of hospitals in China have WeChat Official Service Accounts.
  • Using WeChat to book appointments has reduced wait time by an average of 43.6 minutes.



  • Offline retails sales generated on WeChat pay have increased 62% year on year.
  • Mini programs have expanded the customer footprint of supermarkets and convenience stores from 2 kilometers to 5 kilometers.



  • Scanning QR codes to check in at hotels has reduced the average check-in time from 3 minutes to 30 seconds, increasing hotel service efficiency by 600%.
  • Hotel booking mini programs increase customer loyalty. 20% of guests who booked a room though a hotel’s mini program booked a second time, in comparison to only 10% of those who used other channels to book their stay.



  • WeChat Pay usage in restaurants has increased 53% over the past year.
  • But more notably, the amount spent through scan-to-order transactions increased 619% year over year.



  • Travelers save, on average, 2 hours at top tourism sites by scanning a QR code to purchase tickets instead of waiting in line.


PowerofQRCode_Chatly_5The top 6 industries in the QR code economy and the percentage of transactions made through WeChat Pay


E-Commerce and Social Commerce

Some key takeaways:

  • 41% of brands surveyed believe that mini program stores have helped them reduce e-commerce store opening and operating costs.
  • 66% of consumers surveyed said they are more likely to buy products recommended by their friends.
  • 82% of business owners use WeChat to communicate with customers and prospects.
  • 70% of store owners have WeChat groups for their customers.


QR Codes Have Supported the Growth of Entrepreneurialism and Small Businesses in China

WeChat’s social network + commerce + payments ecosystem all connected by QR codes has lowered the barrier for entrepreneurs to start their own businesses.

  • 79.4 % of small business owners are using WeChat Pay for their businesses.
  • The transaction amounts small businesses have received on WeChat Pay with QR codes has increased by 10x over the past 3 years.




And this isn’t limited to the big cities. QR codes have had a dramatic impact on business owners in rural areas of China. Over 70% of these small shop owners, farmers, etc. receive payments through QR codes. WeChat Pay has revolutionized banking, causing them to no longer have to travel miles to the nearest bank to deposit cash.


What Does All This Data Mean

It means that QR codes are an extremely important tool for engaging and converting Chinese consumers. It can be very difficult for marketers and brand decision makers in the West to understand the impact of QR codes, how frequently they are used, and the ways in which they are used throughout everyday life in China, but hopefully the data from this report can illustrate the massive role they play.

If your brand is not currently incorporating QR codes into your consumer touchpoints you are losing out on potential followers and sales opportunities.

If this article has peaked your curiosity and you would like to learn more about how QR codes can be used to grow your customer base, drive sales and develop a loyal audience, check out our previous blog post, “You Need to be Using Parametric QR Codes EVERYWHERE. Here’s Why.”

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