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What are rotating barcodes?
What are rotating barcodes?

Using rotating barcodes on Google Wallet passes

Danny Allen avatar
Written by Danny Allen
Updated over a week ago


Rotating barcodes look just like regular barcodes but change periodically, typically every minute, and the terminal/reader is programmed to only accept the most recent one. This security measure reduces the risks associated with barcode screenshotting, in particular ticket theft or unauthorized ticket resale. Rotating barcodes can also act as a fallback for devices that can’t take advantage of Smart Tap, due to not supporting NFC (lack of hardware, or software disabled).

NOTE: The Rotating Barcode feature is only available for Google Wallet and only supports QR Code and PDF417 barcode types

How do rotating barcodes work?

  • Dynamic updates: Unlike static barcodes that remain the same, rotating barcodes refresh their pattern at regular intervals, typically every minute. This means a screenshot of the barcode will become invalid shortly after it's taken.

  • Enhanced security: This dynamic nature makes it significantly harder for someone to steal or misuse your pass by simply taking a picture of it. Even if someone intercepts the barcode data, it will expire quickly, rendering it useless.

  • Wider compatibility: For devices without NFC (either lacking hardware or having it disabled), rotating barcodes serve as a backup to Smart Tap.

Think of it like a password that constantly changes. Even if someone gets hold of your old password, it won't grant them access because a new one has already taken its place.

Benefits of using rotating barcodes

Here are some benefits of using rotating barcodes in Google Wallet passes:

  • Reduced risk of ticket theft: Screenshots of barcodes are a common way for unauthorized access to events or services. Rotating barcodes minimize this risk by making screenshots obsolete.

  • Added protection against resale: Scalping or unauthorized resale of tickets becomes more difficult with rotating barcodes, as the original barcode quickly becomes invalid.

  • Peace of mind for users: Knowing that your passes have an extra layer of security can provide peace of mind and prevent unnecessary worry about potential misuse.

How to enable rotating barcodes

Step 1 - Select Barcode Tab

Navigate to your pass design, and with the Google Design selected click on the barcodes tab.

Step 2 - Enable Rotating Barcode

Use the toggle to enable Rotating Barcodes

Step 3 - Save

Make sure to click 'Save' when done.


Overall, rotating barcodes are a valuable security feature that Google Wallet offers to enhance the protection and usability of your passes. They add an extra layer of defense against unauthorized access and contribute to a more secure and convenient experience for pass holders.

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