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QR Code Primer From EZOnlineDocuments

What Are QR Codes? What Do The They Do?

The Shareholder Services Association (SSA) hosts several webinars each year with high-quality information for members of shareholder service community.

EZOnlineDocuments’ CTO, Rich Andrews, recently participated as a panelist in a webinar that discussed the topic of Quick Response (QR) codes. The following primer provides information on QR codes and why companies should consider using them in their documents and voting materials.

SSA Webinar Topic: QR Codes

By Rich Andrews, CTO, EZOnlineDocuments, LLC

What is a QR code?

A Quick Response (“QR”) code is basically a matrix bar code similar to UPC barcodes, but able to contain a great deal more information than a UPC barcode. This ability to contain more information in a similar printed footprint is driving the growth of QR codes.

Why use a QR code?

Placing a QR code on a document is very similar to providing a web hyperlink (such as http://www.ezonlinedocuments.com –
see the QR code above) but the QR code can be easily scanned and used to send the person scanning it directly to that web link without having to type it in.

Because of the large installed base of smartphones and tablets and how easy it is to use QR codes for the consumer, QR technology has quickly become mainstream.

Is there a license fee for using a QR code?

QR codes are free to create and to use – and are published as a standard from the International Organization for Standardization: http://www.iso.org/iso/home.html

How do I creat e a QR code?

There are resources online that let you create a QR code free of charge such as: http://goqr.me/ (note that the white area around the black code is actually part of the QR code itself.)

Of course, your printer can easily manage creating and placing QR codes inside your documents.

You can create QR codes that go directly to your hosted documents (which then have optional links directly to the voting site) or a QR code to go directly to your voting site (which then has links to your documents).

How do I use a QR code?

QR codes require software that can “read” the code and a cameraequipped device. Blackberry and Microsoft have included QR
code readers in their phones, but currently Apple and Android smartphones and tablets do not ship with this software built in. But
both Apple and Android platforms have apps that users can install to scan and read QR codes.

Once you have the software, simply open the program then point your camera at the code block and the code is read.

Can you track who uses your QR codes?

Since the QR code is just a web hyperlink, you can control where the user goes and thus track actual scans of the QR code. You can then use standard web reporting to gain the same information about who scanned the code as if they had manually typed the address into the browser.

However, you need to take care not to step too far by using cookies or other tracking software when presenting a document (such as a Proxy Statement) that is SEC compliant. For this reason, I recommend you provide only generic links that do not have tracking
features at all.

When can I add a QR code to my document?

The process is similar to providing a standard web link, so you need to be aware of the same timing issues as you would for the
exact link. For example, when creating a Proxy Statement and placing a link (and a QR code,) the key is to know exactly what the
link will be beforehand.

Are QR codes safe to use?

Actually, QR codes are simply web hyperlinks and thus can be malicious or viral in nature. And, because the actual link itself is
obscured from the person looking at the code, they are harder to detect than normal hyperlinks.

A malicious QR was used in Russia that caused people who scanned it to send premium texts from their phones at a fee of $6 each.
Criminals have also printed their own QR codes and pasted them on top of legitimate QR codes on products – a hard to detect fraud.

So users need to take care with QR codes including having up to date anti-virus software and judging the source of the QR code to determine if they should be using it at all.

Of course, for this audience, you would be placing QR codes in your documents and thus be the source –so the QR codes would be safe for your readers to use.

Should you put a QR code in your documents this season?

Absolutely! The mobile user base has skyrocketed and supporting those users is very important. The QR code is a visible way to show that you are aware of the growing trend and want to make getting to your links easier for your readers.

Shareholder Services Association Resources

Learn more about the SSA including many eLearning opportunities at www.shareholderservices.org

Follow-up Questions

If you have any questions about QR codes, feel free to contact Rich at: rich@ezonlinedocuments.com, (973) 236-1576 or at

Fun Facts about QR codes

  • QR codes were invented for the Japanese automotive industry.
  • Since 2010, QR codes have been used on Chinese train tickets and QR codes are also put on Japanese immigration visas.
  • A study in 2011 of the 14 million QR codes scanned in July alone, 58% of users scanned from their homes.
  • QR codes can be used to login to some websites - a QR code shows on the screen and the user scans it with their pre-verified smartphone.
  • The Smithsonian has QR codes in their Neanderthal exhibit – “Scan here to be part of our MEanderthal exhibit.” Once the person scans the QR code they go to a website they can upload their (or family member’s) photos and they get regressed to be visually Neanderthal.