Invented in Japan, the two-dimensional barcode is black-and-white graphic used for recording data information. It is featured with large storage capacity, high traceability, and low cost.

 The two-dimensional barcode is not a brand new technology. However, the camera recognition function of smartphone makes it feasible to input the two-dimensional barcode, printed in newspaper, magazines and outdoor advertisement, into our phones. Two-dimensional barcode becomes the intersection of geographical location, online and offline, users and mobile devices, which is one of one of the most suitable tool for mobile internet. The QR (Quick Response) code is one of the most popular two-dimensional barcodes.

2012 witnessed the transition of two-dimensional barcode from traditional symbol to magic tool opening up online and offline. It is widely used, from outdoor advertisement to newspaper and magazines, from corporate marketing to personal brands.

The search box is the entrance to PC internet field, while two-dimensional barcode is the entrance to mobile internet field. More and more companies realize the great importance of two-dimensional barcode.

With the step in of the internet giant like Tencent, Alibaba, and Yihaodian, the two-dimensional barcode industry experienced unprecedented accelerated development in 2012. Now the two-dimensional barcode is considered as the standard fittings to the mobile internet, and the market is turning into Red Ocean with fierce competition. The participants include not only Wechat,, Alipay, but also e-commerce companies like Taobao, Yihaodian, even QQ browser, UCWeb etc.

Senior e-commerce and internet analyst Wang Gang points out that the two-dimensional barcode is the foundation rather than a separate industry. As part of the O2O industrial chain, the core of two-dimensional barcode lies in the application of R&D capability, and the ability to integrate the offline resources.

For example, the two-dimensional barcode is the core part of Wechat’ digital membership card, which covers a full field of daily life service including restaurants, mall, KTV, cinema, clothing, FMCG products, cosmetics, supermarket, hotel etc. Wechat’s digital membership card has been put online this May. So far, it has been used over ten million times in five major cities including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Chengdu, and 4 cards are issued every second. has accumulated a large amount of offline resources, and users can easily access to suitable digital coupon on the exiting platform. Currently, the offline two-dimensional barcode display is the supplement to the mobile ends for, and the future investment is under observation.

Face to the competition from internet giants, the SME (small & medium enterprises) need to find alternatives to survive in the Red Ocean. Ling Dong Kuai Pai, known as a mobile internet company featured with two-dimensional barcode recognition technology, originally planned to firstly attract users then build the platform, now adjust its business model to target corporate clients to provide two-dimensional barcode technology and promotion service.

Kang is a Tech writer, Event planner and Chairman of Beijing 3 Day Startup.

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