What is Super-app?

Siddharth Goyal | Wed 17th Feb, 2021

All of you must have heard the term “Super-app” and wondered what is a Super-app? How does it work? How do they monetize? Why do apps become Super-apps? Also, how to become a Super-app? Hence, we wanted to talk to you about Super-apps and their rise globally. First, let’s understand where did Super-apps come from.

The term “Super-app” was first coined by Blackberry Founder Mike Lazaridis in 2010 with the idea of creating an ecosystem of multiple apps that can facilitate multiple daily use-cases. Today, Super-app has been evolved as a single platform for consumers to get access to various kinds of products and services.

Most super-apps started with a simple idea of providing a chat platform (e.g. WeChat, hike) or a payment system (e.g. Paytm, Alipay). They have taken a very specific approach of starting with providing a single service, acquiring customers, and then offering more services (both their own as well as 3rd party offerings). This results in giving more options to the consumers to navigate through and engage with the app. These Super-apps leverage their existing customer base and provide them new products to capture the customer’s attention resulting in increased activity on the app.

Suppose you are a customer using an app for paying your bills every month, one day you see options of being able to book a flight from the app, you are more likely to check that option of flight booking than any new app in the market. This allows these apps to keep building the ecosystem of products and become more relevant to their customers’ daily lifestyles. Most users in China are said to use Wechat (a super-app) for services ranging from fund transfers to planning your travel to order food, booking a cab, and even chatting with their friends. While the services provided by these apps may look irrelevant to each other, they provide a lot of value to the customers.

Firstly, customers don’t need to download multiple apps on their phone or remember which app is to be used for which service. This saves them the space on their phones along with the need to remember which apps are supposed for what services.

Second, if they are already using the app for any of the services, then mostly they have already set-up their payment in their app. If they use the same app for some other service, they don’t need to add their payment details again. They now trust this app with their payment/card details and feel comfortable transacting for other products.

Thirdly, Customers also get an option to redeem their existing points that they received for ordering one product against any other service. Say you booked a flight and received a cashback from the app, then you may use this cashback to book a taxi to the airport. Insane, right? Now, you don’t need to take another flight to redeem that cashback. This creates an open loyalty ecosystem on the app for the customers benefitting both the users as well as service providers.

An ideal super-app would be a platform providing an amalgamation of services of social media (messaging or sharing content with your friends), payment services, and lifestyle services. Wechat is the only one providing all the three services. Some of the examples of super-apps other than Wechat are Alipay, Paytm, Amazon. Paytm started with providing wallet services to the customer and moved to provide Paytm mall to the consumers. Banks across Asia are also moving towards becoming a super-app and providing lifestyle services to the customers. HDFC Smartbuy, SBI Yono, ICICI iMobile, IndusInd all in one app are some of the examples. Even now Whatsapp and Reliance are trying to create a chat-based super-app.

There is clearly an opportunity for big players like banks, chat-based applications, and Fintechs to establish themselves as Super-apps and provide value-added services to the customers. But let’s wait to see how many of them will grab this opportunity and take advantage of it?

This is it for now. We will come back with more insights on Super-apps, Fintechs, Banking in the future.

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