what is the difference between a qr code and rfid

What Is The Difference Between A Qr Code And RFID?

What is the difference between QR code asset tags and RFID asset tags? Both of them have a similar purpose and usage. 

Still, if you have a scanner nearby, an “active” RFID tag will constantly transmit information (more on the different RFID tag types later), where a QR code needs to be rescanned each time individually and with a line of sight.

While this makes it sound like there’s an obvious winner, that’s not necessarily the case. 

While RFID tags have increased functionality and connectivity, QR tags are often a lot more practical. They’re also cheaper as they’re easier to print.

There is a lot to consider before you decide which to invest more of your time and money into. You don’t want to spend a fortune on RFID tags and scanners and then use them in the same way you’d be using QR tags or even cheaper RFID tags.

Previously, the barcode had almost exclusive use in the field of product identification for e-commerce. 

The QR Code and RFID are, therefore, two different concepts but with one identical objective. The QR Code is a small black and white logo, printable and accessible to all. 

RFID labels come in the form of a sticker with an integrated chip that requires a particular reader. 

Used for identifying products, people (with passports) and even animals (in countries where identification is mandatory), the number of sales in the RFID market has increased by 40% since 2005.

These are two different technologies with unique characteristics. As an e-merchant, choosing between these two options can sometimes be complicated. 

It all depends on the size of your company and its stage of development. The advantages and disadvantages will vary depending on your situation!

What Is RFID?

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Originally invented in 1980, RFID stands for Radio-frequency Identification, meaning it uses a radio to transmit data. 

RFID has quite a fascinating history behind it. Its ancestor was used as a listening device for the Soviet Union just before the Cold War. 

The device gained popularity until it was developed into a passive radio transponder with memory in 1973 to be used as a toll device. 

As demand grew for extensive product inventories, a more robust technology was needed to keep track of individual products, which is where the modern form of RFID was put into action.

A Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) is a wireless technology that integrates radio waves to read the data embedded in it.

This type of wireless technology was first invented in 1948 and is modified more than a hundred times to perfect a fully functional RFID system.

first patented his profitable RFID discoveries in the 1970s and provides better solutions for the future. Before, RFID was widely used to track one’s item movement and unlock doors still used today.

How Do RFID Tags Work?

RFID uses electromagnetic fields (radio waves) to identify and track objects with tags. 

These tags are attached to other things based on an electronic chip, in which the chip transmits the inventory number to an antenna and then an RFID reader.

There are two types of RFID tags: active and passive. Passive RFID tags are powered by the radio waves themselves, and active RFID tags are powered by a battery, making them readable from a distance up to hundreds of meters. 

In either case, a particular RFID reader must transmit the data from the RFID tag to the computer database. Their data capacity is fully flexible depending on the context.

Advantages Of RFID

As the use of modern RFID systems has been around for five decades, tech enthusiasts have identified the advantages and disadvantages of using them.

Provides Secure Data Dissemination

One of the advantages RFID can provide to its users is the provision of secure data dissemination. As tech enthusiasts put them in keycards, the data they encrypt and decrypt requires special equipment, and the use provides fast data dissemination.

Convenient To Use

Just like barcodes, RFIDs are convenient to use. As it only takes a few seconds to unlock doors, transfer funds, and more, people have no trouble using them.

Easy To Carry

As most of the RFID powered technologies are in the form of keycards, you won’t need to worry about placing them in your pockets or wallets.

It Can Be Used Diversely.

As RFID mould comes in different spindle lengths, you can apply it from furniture, electronics down to payment kiosks, merchandise tags, and more. Because of that, this technology is excellent for business and household use.

One RFID, Multiple Uses

The main reason why RFIDs are continuously modified by tech enthusiasts is to provide multiple uses for one RFID key card. 

Because of that, they can make their vision a reality and give the people multifunctional RFID technology.

Today, RFID users can embed different command prompts in one keycard and still have other access policies for each prompt.

Disadvantages Of RFID

Aside from its advantages, RFID is also facing some technical and financial issues.

It’s Not Budget-friendly

The use of RFID can cost you more than the use of other wireless technology. As they need a server to maintain the data’s whereabouts, more funds are required to keep them working.

Also, the price of an RFID scanning device can cost more than the use of a regular wireless scanning device for barcodes.

It Is Power-dependent

As most RFID systems are dependent on electricity, their power-dependent feature can bring harm to its users. Because of that, RFID users are advised only to use their keycards when the building’s power is stable.

Prone To Hacking

Most of the RFID systems data are synced and secured using a server. But as security in a server can be compromised by tech-savvy people, RFIDs are prone to data alteration and hacking.

It Expires After A Given Period.

As most RFID keycards are battery-operated, occasional replacement is necessary. Because of this, the expense you spend in using RFID stacks up.

Hard To Retrieve When You Lose It

Once you lose your RFID keycard, you will lose access to your RFID powered furniture and objects.

As RFID replacement can take weeks to arrive, users are forced to return to the traditional means of locking and unlocking their doors.

What Is An RFID Tag Used For? 

In addition to product inventory management and tracking, RFID tags have a wide range of applications. They are often added to company cars, computer equipment, and even animals during transportation. Particularly when an active RFID tag is used, it extends its capabilities to include toll collection, making documents machine-readable, tracking for the timing of sports events, and billing processes.

RFID Benefits

The benefits of using RFID tags are apparent very quickly. First of all, being able to walk into a room and press a button and all of the assets in that room appearing on your scanner is futuristic and feels fantastic. 

RFID tagging can bring inanimate objects to life in a more fulfilling way than QR tagging.

With QR tagging, the scanning range is vastly different, even if the RFID tag is passive. Not only this, but QR codes need line of sight and need to be scanned one by one. 

RFID tags, on the other hand, can be monitored through surfaces, and multiple assets can be observed at once.

QR codes must always be “read-only”, whereas RFID tags can be “read-write”, depending on the radio frequency that’s being used. 

What this means is that assets can be changed and updated, and communicated with whilst they’re either in use or in transit.

So, not only are RFID tags futuristic and have more uses than QR tags, but they also have many more applications. 

The read range is far superior for an RFID tag. Also, as multiple can be scanned simultaneously, various deadlines can be met with much more ease than monitoring assets one by one.

RFID tags also have many uses that are still being explored. For example, Amazon used RFID tags in trollies and on assets to show that it was possible to use weighted shelves and RFID tags to make shopping easier. 

The experiment showed that right now, it is possible to take items from a frame in a shop, place them in your trolley, then walk out of the shop and get charged for the items with the help of RFID tags. No more queues!

What Is A Qr Code?

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A QR code or Quick Response code is a two-dimensional barcode type that was invented in 1994.

Thanks to its two-dimensional feature, QR codes scans faster than the typical one-dimensional barcodes.

These QR codes are now widely used in the business, health care, transportation, and education sectors.

As they are omnipresent, they are placed in posters, brochures, flyers, magazines, window panes, newspapers, product labelling, business cards, and even in social media posts.

QR Codes were also developed to improve product inventory management systems, but they don’t use radio-based technology. 

Instead, they function much more like a Barcode, which uses a rectangular shape read horizontally.


QR Codes take Barcode technology a step further by using a square form, meaning they can be read horizontally and vertically. 

This feature sped up loading times, increased data capacity, and improved error resistance, which is why they’ve become so widely used today.

How Do Qr Codes Work?

QR Codes are made up of 7 different elements that complete their square shape. 

These seven elements determine aspects like how the QR Code is read, how much data it holds, the level of error correction, and the quiet zone (space that distinguishes the QR Code from its surroundings). To read their data, you can use any smartphone to scan the image of the QR Code.

Advantages Of Qr Codes


QR codes are inexpensive to make. As they don’t require money and more resources, QR codes are economical for small businesses and startups.

Easy To Create

Unlike the creation of RFID, QR codes are way easier to make and use. With a QR code generator available online, people can easily explore how to create a QR code and use them.

Can hold different multimedia formats

Because of the need to supply people’s needs, modern QR code technology can hold different multimedia formats. As information can be in any form, the use of QR codes is great.

Have Higher Damage Tolerance

Unlike RFID, QR codes can withstand any physical damages thanks to their high error correction feature.

Through it, people can still scan the QR code even if it gets damaged due to natural or artificial occurrences.

It Can Be Scanned Via A Mobile Device.

One great thing about QR codes is that people can scan them using their smartphones and access the content online. Because of this, they were accessing a piece of information from a QR code within reach of your phone camera lens.

Disadvantages Of Qr Codes

Lack Of Familiarity

As much as they are welcomed in Asia, QR codes are not given importance by the Western part of the globe. Because of this problem, some people are having doubts about using them.

Advertisers Tend To Misuse Them.

As advertisers improperly use QR codes, people see the incompetence QR codes make and create negative impressions on them. As a result, people are avoiding them and may never want to give QR codes a chance.

Reasons Why Qr Codes Are Better Than RFID Tags

If you’re looking to compare RFID tags and QR Codes, QR Codes are a much better option in the majority of cases. They don’t need complicated technology to be read, have no limit to scan distances, and can even be customised for a particular brand. So, here are the reasons why you should opt for QR Codes instead of RFID tags.

Simplified Scanning And Data Readability

While an RFID tag requires a special scanner to read and transmit the data to a computer, QR Codes can be scanned with any smartphone. QR Code scanning is always possible with a third-party app, and newer smartphone versions have even automated QR Code scanning with the camera (iOS and Android). Plus, when a QR Code is scanned via mobile, the data or content within that QR Code is directly readable on your smartphone.

No Limit To Scan Distance

Even though active RFID tags can be scanned from hundreds of meters away, QR Codes can be monitored from exceptionally far away distances – without a battery to power them, too.

All you need for a QR Code to work is to design the image and print it. And if you want it to be scanned from far away, make the image larger. As long as the square shape is maintained and the image has a high resolution, your scan distance is limitless.

Less Chance Of Errors

When you choose a QR Code, you select the option that decreases your chances for errors. RFID tags are based on radio wave technology, so if they’re damaged in any way, are out of range from the scanner, or lose battery power, they will no longer work.

It makes much more sense to rely on a QR Code because it’s based on a simple image. Plus, their error resistance is up to 30%, meaning that a third of the QR Code can be damaged and still function.

When all you need is a smartphone to scan them, it makes them much more durable and less complex.

Customisation For Branding

One significant advantage of QR Codes is branding—something that RFID tags have absolutely nothing of. RFID tags are not meant for marketing because they’re just metallic chips placed in silicon.

But QR Codes are becoming an increasingly popular tool because of what they can do for marketing campaigns. First off, you can style them however you need, including brand colours, custom frames with an editable CTA (call to action), different edges, and your logo in the middle.

Flexible Marketing

The second reason QR Codes are valid for marketing is due to their flexibility.

There are QR Codes for every type of marketing campaign, both print and digital, or even a combination of both. If you want to use QR Codes on digital platforms, you can use its short URL.

Every QR Code you designed automatically comes with a customisable short URL which speeds up loading times to the content you connect, as well as gives users the option to view it via desktop, tablet, or mobile.

Use QR Codes on large-scale billboard ads, print business cards, or even email marketing campaigns. With this fact in mind, it’s a no-brainer why QR Codes are the winner.

Editing And Tracking

There are two further reasons why QR Codes thoroughly beat RFID tags: editability and trackability. While there are certain types of RFID tags that are editable, the process is complicated and requires complex updates to the device itself.

But if you need to edit a QR Code, all you need to do is choose a Dynamic version, and then it’s always updatable from within your QR Code Generator account. You can even completely change your type of QR Code (for example, swap out images for a video) without having to create a new QR Code.

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