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Scanning Code Payment And NFC Payment, Which Is Better?

- Dec 13, 2017 -

In these two years, anybody came to China would be impressed by China’s cashless payment via mobile phone scanning QR code. Wechat and Alipay are the two giants taken up scanning code payment market. For daily consumption from shopping in mall to buy an apple from roadside vendor, we can pay so easily and conveniently.

 wechat pay.jpg

Why NFC payment, another hot cashless payment that has been promoted for many years is not popular like Wechat or Alipay in China?

The key reason is cost. Scanning QR code payment compared with NFC payment is of low cost.

Firstly, NFC payment requires a POS machine that with flash charging function, and it is costly for installing and upgrading the machine for most business owners. In contrast, scanning QR code payment only require Wechat or Alipay APP on mobile phone, which is very easy and cheap to operate.

Secondly, to use NFC payment, our mobile phone must be equipped with NFC chip. However, majority phones in the aim of saving cost, do not equip with NFC chip, which results majority people cannot use NFC function in daily life.


But how about public transportation payment? NFC payment and QR scanning code payment, which is better?

Ali and Tecent are competing the market of public transportation payment. Forgetting your wallet? Lost your card? No worry. In recent years, few people would forget their mobile phones. Based on this consideration, scanning code payment project is under preparation for the two giants. Passengers no need to deposit, before entry, scan the code and been released, later been charged automatically. This sounds great.

scanning code payment.jpg

However, scanning QR code payment compared with NFC payment is with its own shortage.

Firstly, cost. NFC has been equipped in world public transportation system long time before, no need additional charge. For code scanning payment, Tecent and Ali need to upgrade the whole charging system, install auto-scanning-charging machine, which is not a small project, and the cost is very high.

Secondly, user experience. In the case of shopping and payment settlement, it is not too hurry, the user can easily accept code scanning payment way. However, more users may not be willing to wait in crowded while catching time by bus or metro. Therefore, scanning code payment is difficult to replace card payment in public transportation. The birth of the bus card is to allow users to speed up payment on the bus to save time. Efficiency is always the first place in public transportation. However, code scanning apparently not easy enough and time-saving. Put aside the tedious binding ID and bank account procedures aside, after the binding, user needs to open mobile phone, and then enter the corresponding APP applications, and then turn into the scan code interface, the last step to complete the payment scan. The entire payment process requires at least four steps. Imagine at the peak traffic time of the morning and evening every day, facing crowded people in bus or metro station, each person need to open the phone and do the following three steps for paying ticket, it is so timely. In contrast, NFC allows a more direct way to pay by tapping the phone.

NFC Payment2.jpg 

On public transportation, from the technical level and users experience point speaking, NFC should be far ahead of QR scanning code payment, but NFC still has to solve some problem before it can move fast.

How to coordinate with public transport group with considerate of their interest. For bus groups around the world, bus cards are one of their important sources of revenue. If NFC payments are to be popularized, it will inevitably affect their interests. So, for mobile phone manufacturers, how to coordinate this layer of relationship has become a problem to be solved.


However, a sufficiently convenient user experience may ultimately determine the user's choice. As NFC technology becomes more popular, the cooperation between handset manufacturers and local bus companies and telecom operators will become more mature and NFC will become mainstream or become a reality. In this case, the code-scanning payment in public transportation may only be a short-lived transition before the NFC payment for bus or metro ticket is fully mature.


For technology giants such as Ali and Tencent, the next step may not be confined to scanning the code, but to scanning faces.

In the upcoming era of artificial intelligence, Ali and Tencent in the technology is bound to have certain advantages compared to a handset manufacturer, face recognition has become the focus of the BAT force.

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