Passbook – The Battle Between NFC and QR Codes

Passbook is a digital wallet that stores tickets, coupons, cards, and passes in one easy to use application on the iPhone and iPod Touch. As part of Apple’s latest mobile operating system (iOS6) Passbook will utilise 2D barcodes as part of a digital Pass feature. Passbook will support 3 different types of 2D barcodes. The most common one today is the QR (Quick Response) code. The barcodes store all the data and information in each pass and can be scanned and used at outlets. Like devices with NFC, Passbook paves way for mobile marketing and distributing coupons and tickets, and eventually mobile payments.

Why hasn’t Apple already adopted NFC? Passbook’s largest competitors like Google Wallet and Microsoft Wallet can easily rival Passbook because they use NFC technology, allowing for people to pay for items with the scan of their devices.

Apple has decided now not to integrate NFC into its gadgets but may very well do so in the imminent future. The greatest benefit of using QR codes is that it provides the same features that NFC merchants supplies, but requires a lot less infrastructure cost and reduces technological complexities. The only weakness it has is in terms of security, and NFC hosts security levels that are more superior to QR codes. Regardless, the fact that almost anyone can easily generate QR codes and download applications to read them means a more economical yet efficient way of conducting transactions. As well, 2D scanners are readily available on the market and even at major outlets at their point-of-sale systems. Those merchants wouldn’t need to fork over extra investment in equipment, but would need to for NFC.

In terms of global acceptance, QR codes are more widely recognized and used as opposed to NFC. NFC’s technology is indeed very advanced — contact less hardware that scans in transactions is something of great technological stature, but it comes at a high cost. Although some outlets have begun supporting NFC, QR codes are still dominant today as they appear almost everywhere — magazines, billboards, brochures, pamphlets.

Though the volume of NFC users continues to expand, it’s still minute relative to the demand received from QR codes. Passbook is undeniably an app that will measure up to mobile payment devices already employing the use of NFC. In terms of function, it has similar capabilities of NFC driven devices at a much lower cost. So in the coming few years, Apple could combine NFC and Passbook, but at this moment in time Passbook will only support QR codes.