QR code payments are big in China and could be set to spread across South East Asia as merchants pick up on the low cost of adoption, experts believe.

In China, the QR code is so pervasive that it can even be used to pay for anything – from fresh produce at local farmers’ markets to meals at street stalls – that were formerly cash-only.

“Even if you go to the temples, the monk will ask for donations with QR codes,” according to Chen Yu, president of Beijing-based payment service provider YeePay.

“Even the homeless are beginning to use QR codes,” he told the recent Money 20/20 conference in Singapore. “It’s not cash anymore.” (For more, read WARC’s report: The rise of QR code payments in China – is South East Asia next?.)

A big driving factor for this rapid and widespread adoption has been China’s payment landscape, which has not generally included what the West would see as “traditional” credit and debit cards.

This led to “exactly the opportunity” allowing for the QR landscape to truly thrive. “The adoption barrier is much lower,” Yu explained.

“The merchants do not have to rely on any existing legacy payment infrastructure,” he said of the ease and rapid speed of deploying QR payment methods. “If you look at Alipay and WeChat, they already had a huge user base. It’s just a matter of switching on a new feature to support QR code payment.”

“That’s why QR code adoption is taking off so rapidly in China – it’s mostly driven by the merchants.”

And he expects that this will be replicated across south-east Asian markets next. “In a lot of similar developing markets, it will also have a good chance of success,” said Yu.

Sourced from WARC