Where Did It All Start?
BlackBerry might not be remembered as a pioneer of smart business handheld devices. However, the credit of coining the term ‘Super apps’ has to be given to its founder Mike Lazaridis, and that too, a decade ago! It was defined as a closed ecosystem of multiple utilities that seamlessly integrate with each other for an efficient experience.
The Advantages Brought by Super Apps
Super apps can rightly be described as the Swiss Army knives of the mobile app world. They encompass multiple utilities in a single download. They bring with them, a host of advantages:
It is quite well known that people are not hesitant to upgrade existing applications. Launching a new utility as a part of the super app is nothing more than an app update. In this manner, you do not open a utility from scratch but start with an established audience who are quite likely to use that utility within your app. This would mean that product launches are relatively less risky with super apps.
In most cases, having a super app ensures lower product ownership and development costs. Developing a Super app to provide all kinds of on-demand services has its own challenges and practical difficulties. Most of the utilities on WeChat were not developed by WeChat themselves. They were developed by companies who wanted to conduct business with WeChat user base and integrate their business with the utilities offered by WeChat.
When it comes to financial services, Know Your Customer (KYC) and anti-money laundering (AML) requirements must be complied with. Since super apps are likely to have customer data even before the launch of financial services, connecting KYC and AML becomes efficient both in terms of cost and time. For example, Ant Financials reduce their loan approval process to 3 minutes without compromising on the default rates because they had access to the customers’ social and financial profile.
The Chinese Domination
Today, Super applications are synonymous with Asian countries. Most of the super apps that we know today were created in countries like China, Indonesia, India, and Singapore. China has managed to carve a niche of supremacy for itself when it comes to super apps. WeChat and AliPay are some of the most common super apps which offer a multitude of services.
A Bit about WeChat
As the name implies, WeChat was launched in 2011 as a simple messaging application. Today, after almost a decade since its creation, WeChat hosts more than 1 million mini-programs that provide different utilities to users. These utilities include but are not limited to calling gaps, applying for loans and even transacting with celebrities. All the transactions happen right within the WeChat ecosystem. This transactional element has enabled WeChat achieve an average revenue of $7 per user which is far ahead of WhatsApp which earns about $1 per user.
A Bit About AliPay
AliPay – a part of AliBaba has not only figured out a way to build an integrated ecosystem but also a symbiotic relationship between the entities in the ecosystem. It has a closely knit system of services. AliPay is the principal payment system for major Chinese e-commerce platforms that are owned by AliBaba. Using transactional and social data from both businesses and users, it uses a financial body called Ant Financial to determine the creditworthiness of consumers and merchants who would like to avail of personal and business loans. The best part is that these loans are likely to return as increased profits for AliBaba and its auxiliary e-commerce platforms.
Let’s Move On From China
Both the super apps discussed above are from China. However, there are other super applications from different countries.
Grab from Singapore has its presence in over eight countries and offers services like ride-hailing, package delivery, food delivery, and digital payments.
PayTM in India offers mobile recharges, utility bill payments, e-commerce services, financial transactions, and even flight and bus booking.
Go-Jek, which is bound to be a sure mention when talking about super apps, is a Unicorn from Indonesia. Go-Jek, which started off as a call center-based bike taxi service has now expanded into some of the most unexpected verticals like massage services, fuel delivery and of course, the usual services like ride-hailing and food delivery.
Line is a Japanese messaging app that looks forward to expanding in microfinance. Based on an artificial intelligence-driven credit score called Line Score, it blends to give pocket money for its users. This service will be in addition to its food delivery services and a wide array of mini-applications.
Why Is The West Trailing?
It is quite evident that the United States and Europe have quite a lot of catching up to do with Asia when it comes to these super apps. The rigid regulatory environment and the market conditions have been deterring the development of such apps. However, it has not exhibited these markets from exploring platform-ization. Google Maps can be considered an apt example of this phenomenon.
Google Maps started as a simple map platform. Later, it integrated Google My Business to provide local information about hotels and attractions. It also augmented navigation and traffic data to its portfolio of services offered. Today, with Google maps, you can book an Uber, make a restaurant dissertation, order food online and even book a flight. Google Maps has transformed itself into a platform where users can avail a wide variety of location-based services.
Creating Your Super App
The introduction of innovations like blockchain has only made the regulatory requirements get more accommodative for new technologies. It might not be long before the American and European legal systems give room for super applications. Even if not, platform-ization is already happening and is here to stay. If you would like to capitalize on this super app wave and create your own, you can get in touch with our team of expert on-demand app developers. They will take care to gather your requirements and create your super app, so you are all primed and ready to capitalize on the market the moment it opens up!
Jennifer is a business advisor and strategist for Appdupe. She effectively helps new startups and tech companies to achieve their full potential with her unconventional marketing strategies. On a normal day you can find her on a public speaking on how startups can achieve success with a marketing plan.