Digital Transformation
QR vs NFC/HCE Payments
April 28, 2020

Across the world, millions of smartphone users are now equipped with various contactless payment options more than ever. These options range from Google Pay, Alipay, WeChat Pay, Seqr, Payconiq, Samsung Pay, Fitbit Pay, Apple Pay and various banks mobile apps etc. These various contactless payment options are not only convenient, they are also fast, effortless, and secured. 

More so, these various digital payment solutions eradicate the need to physically swipe any plastic to complete transactions.
Interestingly, many contactless payment options are powered by two major proximity payment technology; QR Codes and NFC/HCE.
Below are how these two different payment technologies stack up:

QR Codes

Quick Response Codes typically known as QR Codes allow customers to make payments to merchants by scanning generated QR Codes with the aid of smartphones camera.
Users can scan QR Codes from screen or paper and end up with precisely the same payment.   

With QR Codes, merchants can receive mobile payments without investing in a physical point-of-sale (POS) terminal or hardware. More so, merchants aren’t limited to accepting payments only from specific devices because all smartphones and tablets can scan and read QR Codes. 

The rapid smartphones penetration as well as groundbreaking internet speed has made QR Codes one of the most preferred contactless payment options for many merchants and customers worldwide.
More so, setting up QR Code payments is seamless. All you need is a smartphone with a camera and QR Codes on screen or printed on paper to start transacting. 


Near Field Communication, commonly known as NFC is a proximity payment technology that enables two devices such as your smartphone and a payment terminal to communicate seamlessly once they are close to each other. 

Digital payment solutions such as Samsung pay, Apple Pay, and Android Pay are notable NFC powered payment platforms available worldwide.
NFC payments are rated among the most secured mobile payments because they are dynamically encrypted. To make NFC more effective and user-friendly, HCE (Host Card Emulation) was developed. 

Prior to the development of HCE, smartphones needed a Secure Element (SE) to conduct transactions.
Because SE was designed to be part of a SIM card, transactions can only be completed with the cooperation from carriers. As such, an effective solution was developed to bypass the dependence on carriers thereby moving the Secure Element into software called HCE.
HCE enables any NFC supported device to interact with contactless payment terminals while emulating a physical contactless card. With HCE, completing contactless payments via NFC is absolutely seamless and smooth.   

Bottom line

As more people embrace digital payment solutions, merchants will be propelled to make contactless payments a mandatory option.
The need for QR Codes and NCF/HCE as payment options will increase more than ever in the near future.
Remarkably, merchants with these payment options will have an edge now going forward, rather than later.