A new way to pay is coming to Woolworths and Coles

An American watchdog has warned of scammers using QR codes. Photo: Supplied

An American watchdog has warned of scammers using QR codes. Photo: Supplied Photo: Supplied

Woolworths, Coles and Commonwealth Bank have joined forces to roll out QR codes as a way to pay for groceries and other retail products.

Australia’s biggest supermarkets and banks want QR codes to be the biggest change in the way shoppers pay for things since “tap and go” was introduced in 2007, payments giant EFTPOS said on Wednesday.

The new method will become available in time for Christmas and will allow you to scan a QR code at the checkout, online or via mobile when paying for something.

EFTPOS chief product officer Matt Barr said the key benefit is QR codes link loyalty cards and digital receipts to payments, which means you can redeem rewards points automatically and won’t need paper receipts.

Using QR codes also allows shoppers to split payments between gift cards, debit cards and credit cards without having to enter three sets of payment data.

“We’re making paying more convenient and enjoyable,” Mr Barr said.

“Loyalty cards will become part of the payment experience.”

Retail expert and University of Tasmania senior lecturer Louise Grimmer said the technology is a “win, win” for shoppers and retailers.

Dr Grimmer said COVID-19 check-ins had brought QR codes into our daily lives after the technology had previously failed to cut through.

“Prior to the pandemic, QR codes really did not take off in Australia … but now we are all scanning QR codes several times per day,” she said.

“There is no reason that this behaviour can’t extend to paying for goods and services.”

How QR code payments will work

EFTPOS has partnered with mobile wallet providers who will enable the payment method in their existing debit and credit card mobile apps.

Wallet companies Beem It and Azupay will be the first wallets to offer the service.

Commonwealth Bank and National Australia Bank will handle the other side by allowing businesses to start accepting QR payments in stores.

You will essentially choose to pay with QR and then scan an image on an in-store terminal, which will automatically apply any loyalty program you have loaded into your digital wallet and generate a digital receipt.

And because Woolworths and Coles have both signed up, the supermarket will be the first place Australians can use these QR codes to pay.

“We look forward to building the next generation of seamless payment experiences with EFTPOS in the months ahead,” Woolies’ Wpay managing director Paul Monnington said in a statement on Wednesday.

Can QR dethrone ‘tap and go’?

Although QR code technology is popular across Asia and has been a normal way to pay in China for more than a decade, Australians have preferred to “tap and go” with physical debit and credit cards in stores.

Reserve Bank data has found about four in five in-store card payments are tap and go, with Australians rarely swiping or inserting their cards these days.

Mr Barr says QR codes could dethrone tap and go as the preferred method of contactless payments in stores, particularly after COVID.

It could even eventually be integrated into COVID-19 check-ins for an all-in-one solution to COVID-safe requirements and paying, Mr Barr said.

“It’s a way to bring all those parts of the shopping experience together that tap and go can’t,” he said.

“Tap and go is a great payment experience, but it’s not a good shopping experience.”

Brian Walker, principal at consultancy Retail Doctor Group, said the QR technology will be a serious competitor to tap and go, particularly as the big supermarkets like Woolworths try to eliminate checkouts altogether to cut costs.

“The average Australian consumer uses their smartphone for four-and-a-half hours a day,” Mr Walker told The New Daily.

“The technology of our phones is becoming a digital passport that offers a lot more efficiency for retailers and shoppers.”

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