QR codes, also known as Quick Response codes, have become increasingly popular in recent years for everything from marketing campaigns to contactless payments.

If you’re wondering how many QR codes are out there, the short answer is: there’s no way to know for sure.

In this article, we’ll explore the world of QR codes, how they work, and some of the ways they’re being used today.

What Are QR Codes?

QR codes, or Quick Response codes, are two-dimensional barcodes that can be scanned by a smartphone camera. They were first invented in 1994 by the Japanese company Denso Wave, with the intention of tracking vehicles during manufacturing. However, it wasn’t until the widespread adoption of smartphones that QR codes became popular for consumer use.

History of QR Codes

The first QR code was created in 1994 by Masahiro Hara, who was working at Denso Wave at the time. Denso Wave was looking for a way to track parts during vehicle manufacturing, and Hara came up with the idea of a two-dimensional barcode that could hold more information than traditional barcodes. The first QR code was a square shape with three smaller squares in the corners, which allowed the code to be read from any direction.

QR codes didn’t become popular in the United States until the mid-2000s, when smartphone adoption began to increase. In 2011, the New York Times used a QR code on the front page of their newspaper for the first time, which led to increased awareness and adoption of the technology.

How Do They Work?

QR codes work by encoding information in a series of black and white squares. When a smartphone camera scans the code, it decodes the information and takes some action, such as opening a website or displaying text. QR codes can hold many different types of information, including URLs, contact information, and even Bitcoin addresses.

There are many different QR code scanning apps available for smartphones, but most modern phones have a built-in scanning feature in the default camera app.

Types of QR Codes

There are several different types of QR codes, each with its own unique purpose:

  • Static QR codes: These codes contain information that doesn’t change, such as a website URL or contact information.
  • Dynamic QR codes: These codes contain information that can be updated, such as a coupon code or event details.
  • Tracking QR codes: These codes are used to track the performance of a marketing campaign, by recording how many times the code is scanned.
  • Custom QR codes: These codes are designed with a specific logo or design, to make them more visually appealing.

QR codes are a versatile and convenient way to share information, and their popularity is only continuing to grow. As of 2021, there are an estimated 11 million QR code scans per month in the United States alone, according to Statista.

How Many QR Codes Exist?

QR codes have been around since 1994, and they have become increasingly popular in recent years. However, it is impossible to know exactly how many QR codes exist in the world today.

One of the reasons it is impossible to know the exact number of QR codes is that they are so easy to create. Anyone can create a QR code in seconds using a free QR code generator. There is no central database that keeps track of all the QR codes that have been created.

Another reason it is impossible to know the exact number of QR codes is that many QR codes are used for temporary purposes. For example, a QR code might be created for a specific marketing campaign and then removed once the campaign is over.

Estimates and Statistics

Despite the impossibility of knowing the exact number of QR codes, there are some estimates and statistics available. According to a report by Juniper Research, there were 5.3 billion QR code coupons redeemed by smartphones in 2020. This represents a 33% increase from the previous year.

Another report by Statista estimated that there were 11.2 million households in the United States that scanned QR codes in 2020. This represents an increase of 8.8% from the previous year.

QR Code Usage Trends

The use of QR codes has been on the rise, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. QR codes are being used for contactless payments, menu ordering at restaurants, and even for health screenings.

One of the reasons for the increased use of QR codes is their versatility. QR codes can be used for a wide range of purposes, from marketing to information sharing. They can also be used to link physical objects to online content, making them a powerful tool for businesses and marketers.

What Are the Uses of QR Codes?

If you’ve ever wondered how many QR codes there are, you’re not alone. QR codes have become increasingly popular in recent years, and their applications are numerous. Here are some of the most common uses of QR codes:

  • Marketing and Advertising: QR codes are commonly used in marketing and advertising to provide customers with easy access to product information, discounts, and promotions. By scanning a QR code, customers can be directed to a company’s website, social media pages, or other online content.
  • Retail and E-commerce: QR codes are also used in retail and e-commerce to streamline the purchasing process. By scanning a QR code, customers can quickly and easily make a purchase without having to enter payment information or other personal details.
  • Contactless Payments: QR codes are increasingly being used for contactless payments. Customers can simply scan a QR code to make a payment, eliminating the need for physical cash or credit cards.
  • Event Management: QR codes are commonly used for event management, allowing attendees to quickly check-in and access event information. Organizers can also use QR codes for lead retrieval and to track attendance.
  • Data Storage and Retrieval: QR codes can also be used for data storage and retrieval. By scanning a QR code, users can access a wide range of information, including product details, contact information, and more.
  • Authentication and Security: QR codes can also be used for authentication and security purposes. For example, some companies use QR codes to confirm the identity of users or to provide secure access to sensitive information.

With so many different uses, it’s no wonder that QR codes have become so popular. Whether you’re a marketer, retailer, event organizer, or just a curious consumer, QR codes offer a wide range of benefits and applications.

According to Statista, as of 2020, 11.3 million households in the United States used a QR code scanner on their smartphone. This number is expected to grow to 14.5 million households by 2022.

The Future of QR Codes

QR codes have been around for over two decades and have been widely used in various industries such as marketing, logistics, and healthcare. With the rise of emerging technologies, QR codes are expected to continue to evolve and become even more ubiquitous in our daily lives.

Emerging Technologies

One of the emerging technologies that could have a significant impact on the future of QR codes is augmented reality (AR). With AR, QR codes can be used to create immersive experiences for users. For example, scanning a QR code on a movie poster could launch an AR experience that shows a trailer for the movie.

Another technology that could enhance QR codes is blockchain. By using blockchain, QR codes can be used to verify the authenticity of products. This can be particularly useful in industries such as luxury goods and pharmaceuticals where counterfeiting is a major issue.

New Applications

QR codes are no longer limited to just marketing and advertising. New applications are emerging that could expand the use of QR codes even further. For example, QR codes are being used in contact tracing efforts to track the spread of COVID-19. They are also being used in restaurants to allow customers to access menus and place orders without physically touching a menu.

QR codes are also being used in education to provide students with access to additional resources such as videos and interactive quizzes. They are also being used in museums and art galleries to provide visitors with additional information about exhibits.

QR Code Alternatives

While QR codes have been widely adopted, there are other technologies that could potentially replace them. One such technology is near-field communication (NFC). NFC allows devices to communicate with each other by simply touching them together. This technology is already being used in mobile payments and could potentially be used for other applications such as access control.

Another alternative to QR codes is image recognition technology. With image recognition, users can simply take a photo of an object to access additional information about it. This technology is already being used in apps such as Google Lens and could potentially be used in industries such as retail and healthcare.


Despite the emergence of new technologies and alternatives, QR codes are expected to remain a popular tool for businesses and consumers. With their versatility and ease of use, QR codes will continue to play an important role in our daily lives.


QR codes have come a long way since their inception in the early 1990s, and they continue to evolve and find new applications in our increasingly digital world.

While it’s impossible to know exactly how many QR codes exist, it’s clear that they are here to stay.

Whether you’re a marketer, a business owner, or just someone who wants to learn more about this fascinating technology, we hope this guide has provided you with some valuable insights and information.

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