December 16, 2018 10 min read

Scan Encrypted QR Code IDs and Badges

Scan Encrypted QR Codes


2D Barcode Generator

Access Control

Attendance Tracking

Lead Retrieval




Barcode Scanner App Decrypts Encrypted Data Embedded in IDs and Badges

  • Encrypted QR Codes, encrypted barcodes (PDF-417, DataMatrix, etc.), and encrypted NFC tags will become the standard for printed materials that include Personally Identifiable Information (PII).
  • GDPR has ushered new permission requirements, which affect the digital world and the printed world.

Primarily, this article will focus on Trade Show Badges for Expositions. Why? Because we’ve already seen how GDPR has required changes in the generation and printing of those badges.

Lead Retrieval

In the past, event organizers could embed the QR code barcode on the badge with the contact information of the attendee. For instance, they used VCard formats including the attendee’s Name, Company, Address, and their email address and phone number.

Ultimately, this is for ‘Lead Retrieval’. For example, an exhibitor could scan that badge with a free, consumer-focused QR code reader. Essentially, you can save that person’s contact information for follow-up after the event. Also, this an inexpensive Lead Retrieval method for exhibitors because the exhibitor doesn’t need the services of a technology provider to retrieve their leads.

However, since anyone could scan the badge’s QR code, the attendee’s information is exposed to anyone who scans the barcode – either while the attendee is wearing the badge or even when discarded.

Embed a Human-Readable ID Alone

Notably, this is the most common method for our event technology clients. First, they embed the badge’s barcode with just an apparently meaningless ID. Secondly, they store the personal data in an associated database on our servers or their servers. Then, they present the ID and associated personal data to the exhibitor for follow-up behind a password-protected website.

Embed an Encrypted ID plus Contact Information

Alternatively, our event technology clients encrypts the ID and personal data and embed that in the barcode. Because it’s AES 128-bit encrypted, a consumer QR code reader presents nothing but gibberish. Fortunately, our app does the decryption immediately after the exhibitor scans it with a smartphone, tablet or purpose-built computer. Also, the event technology companies can protect our app with password. Therefore, only the exhibitors will see the personal data.

Which method is best?

Finally, that depends on the technology provider and the event itself. Contact to explore which option is best for your events.