A Deep Dive into the Realm of Super Apps: How and Why its Market is Sprouting?

  • Published | 23 July 2021

What if I tell you that you can chat with your friends, order food for yourself and them, book tickets or cabs to travel, pay for everything with the use of one single super app on your smartphone? It may not be very hard to imagine this because it is highly probable that you may have been using a super app on your mobile device. And if it’s not the case, then, it is equally probable that you are aware of such apps, if not the exact term.

What are ‘Super apps’?

Super apps are applications that enable you to access a wide range of services from a single platform. A super app can be interpreted as a virtual setup where you can find services from various brands under one roof.

China’s WeChat, owned by Chinese tech giant Tencent, is the leading name in the super apps market, which inspires other platforms too. It initially began its services as a messaging app, but further expanded into providing integrated services like payments, cabs services, food ordering, shopping, and even for booking flights.

Paytm in India rightfully deserves the title of being the first super app in the country. The startup first established itself as an e-wallet and financial service provider but then expanded its platform to e-commerce and e-ticketing. Paytm has already secured its position as one of the most trusted financial startups in the world. It is further working on its ambition to enter the gaming market, to expand its already diverse consumer base.

Who Are the Leading Market Players in The Super Apps Realm?

The market is dominated by giant conglomerates like WeChat, Alibaba, Yandex Go, Rappi, Line, Careem, Paytm, Truecaller, Revolut, and other prominent players. These key players target the basic needs of its customer base like food delivery for consumption needs, cab services for conveyance, e-ticketing for traveling. These market players have built their applications to cater to the overall needs a person may have in a day.

What Factors Make Super Apps Super Trendy?

Super apps are growing at a very impressive rate. They are especially gaining traction in the Asia-Pacific region with Chinese apps leading the market. Their popularity can easily be gauged, given that seven out of 10 global corporations are moving in this direction. This trend toward multi-purpose apps are fueled by a broad smartphone user base in these countries, as well as a higher level of super app acceptance. For example, many outlets in China do not accept credit cards as a mode of payment due to a lack of payment terminals. However, payments via super apps like WeChat or Alipay are very smooth and popular in the country. 

What Raises Concerns Towards Super Apps?

You must be wondering how super apps can have any drawbacks when they are so convenient to use. Super apps are indeed highly convenient to use. You don't need to have your phone storage full of applications for any other operation because of integrated services on one platform; it also creates a monopoly structure. Thus, super apps create a system of monopoly. Customers who use a single app for all of their needs unwittingly become trapped in a conglomerate-created ecosystem. User data is the biggest tool in today’s virtual world. Therefore, super apps raise questions on the privacy of the users especially if the platform contains third-party service providers. Moreover, data collected by these apps can be exploited to predict consumer behavior and target them. That’s one of the reasons why super apps have not gathered much pace in developed countries such as the USA and UK.

Despite the drawbacks, super apps are here to stay for the convenience they offer and the value they create for businesses.