At the recent PayPal X Innovate 2010 Developers Conference in San Francisco, CA, delegates were treated to various new ways of paying for just about anything via PayPal. One of the most basic, yet also one of the most exciting, exhibits was a Paypal gumball machine.
If this Paypal gumball machine were to succeed, people in the future would only need a smartphone and a Paypal account to buy gumballs. One would need a smartphone to scan a QR code that would ask you to pay via Paypal. The machine would then send you a tweet about your purchase and its cost, and would dispense a gumball for you to enjoy.
All these without having to dig into your pockets for loose change.
Admittedly, gumballs may not be the best products to sell through wireless means, but think of the possibilities. Sometime soon, you may be able to get chocolate bars, sodas, food stuff, condoms, even emergency kits using vending machines that are wired to PayPal through QR codes.
Once again, QR codes demonstrate just how effective it is in bridging offline and online products and services. Cashless payments – that are just as good as cash – would soon be possible with QR codes. This is probably the first proof that QR codes facilitate mobile and micro-payments. But, certainly, the idea has long been around.
In Japan, there are vending machines that can read QR codes to dispense products based on the QR codes you have. Coca-Cola Japan, for example, held a contest that involved QR codes wherein, when scanned at selected vending machines, would give out free drinks and other cool prizes. Some vending machines allow you to scan QR codes for food stuff and drinks and these would be charged against your mobile phone bill.
In time, QR codes would make cashless – and credit card-less – shopping very possible. Just think about it, you see an ad in the paper for the latest John Grisham legal thriller and there is a QR code attached. You scan it and it gives you the option to buy the book either via PayPal, a linked bank account or just have the charges added to your phone bill. You can do all these, without even closing the paper you’re reading, or not even within the time it would take to finish your coffee!
Science fiction? Nope, it’s all possible with QR codes!
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