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An article relating to this blog post on Finextra:

Swedbank scraps Bart mobile payments app

Swedbank is killing off its QR code-based mobile payments service, Bart, after failing to sign up enough retailers and consumers.

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Are QR codes at a dead-end?

I can't say I was too surprised to see that Swedbank has scrapped its QR-code payment initiative.

While the scanning of a QR-code could feasibly be used to trigger any function or transaction that can be executed on a mobile device, when it comes to payments it fails to match up to the many more convenient options that are available to consumers and retailers.

Particularly compared to contactless card payment, equivalent NFC enabled payments with a phone, or even cash - installing a QR code reader, launching it and framing a shot with a camera is slow, and something that few consumers have been given enough incentive to do.

Sure, you and I might have QR code readers on our phones, have used them and possibly enthused about the technology. But we're Finextra readers, digital savvy with an interest in new developments in technology and financial services. Most people aren't.

Even in the world of marketing and advertising, where I thought QR codes were a more natural fit, it seems there's possibly more to be gained from auto-reply SMS for competition entry or getting a weblink to optimised, interesting content into a mobile browser. One advantage is that SMS numbers can be short enough to use in broadcast media as well as print. Another is that SMS capability and familiarity is near ubiquitous across all owners of mobile phones, smart or otherwise.

That said, it's not too hard for an advertiser to generate a QR code to include in any print materials at little expense. And as long as they're placed appropriately (no more on the back of buses please), with some clear instruction and a suitable reward for people who scan, their acceptance and use will probably continue to rise, at least among a particular demographic subset of smartphone users.


Comments: (2)

Ketharaman Swaminathan
Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune 24 January, 2014, 18:38Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Coincidentally, I just sent this tweet out a couple of minutes ago: "This was one of my busiest weeks of QR code spotting since I started this exercise 3 years ago. Newspapers and B2B were the major use cases" ( I think Swedbank's decision to deadpool its BART mobile payment app has more to do with the lukewarm reception accorded to all forms of mobile wallets by the general public and less to do with its being based on QR codes. 

Much is made of the friction involved in downloading and installing a QR reader. I don't deny that there's some friction. However, if only Finextra-consuming digerati can be expected to overcome such friction, how come hundreds of millions of people have downloaded and installed mobile apps like FourSquare, Instagram, Snapchat, WeChat and WhatsApp?

The marketer in me believes that anyone can be persuaded to download and install a mobile app, provided there's something in it for them. With the aforementioned blockbuster apps, they find that something. With mobile wallets, they don't, and no amount of tweaking or changing the underlying technology is going to change that. 

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 27 January, 2014, 13:58Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

I have to agree with the comment above.

Swedbank has scrapped its payment initiative for other reasons than QR code technology.

QR codes are very powerful and used for a number of different initiatives, not just a payment. They work well for payments, if the transactional data is not included in them and if they arent tied back to some form of debit/credit card. The problem is QR codes are often linked back to other data and or processes that dont work well, and since the QR code is at the front end of the experience, often they are then the focus of the experience and not the poor processes and costs behind them.

You dont have to download QR code readers anymore, and the native QR code readers on windows phone and iOS 7 devices are stunning. Mobile payment solutions that leverage QR codes have readers built in, so the technology is quite sound...


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