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As platform-based business models gain momentum with 7 out of 10 global companies adhering to them, the market is facing a new trend — the shift from single-purpose to multi-purpose apps, also known as Super Apps. The purpose of this article is to guide you through the main concepts of the super app notion, shedding some light on the reasons for their success and showing some examples of super apps.
What Are Super Apps?
To start with, let’s define super apps. While there’s still no common definition for this type of apps, the one we provide below was given by the BlackBerry’s founder back in 2010
In other words, super apps are a kind of marketplace of services and offerings, whether in-house or third-party ones, gathered under one umbrella. The most prominent examples of such apps are WeChat, Alibaba, and Alipay — all initially created for Chinese markets.
It is worthy of saying that today, the implementation of super apps in China becomes more and more widespread, but the trends smoothly cross the borders, spreading worldwide.
What Makes an App a Super App?
If the element of multifunctionality is clear, let's look at other criteria that determine a super app.
Making an app accessible to everyone to provide equal opportunities is essential for modern super apps. Since users vary in age, gender, technical knowledge, and ability, a super app should provide access to every social group and ensure everyone can perceive, understand, navigate, and interact easily. Inclusivity makes the super app usable for people with disabilities such as impaired vision, color blindness, impaired hearing, impaired dexterity, cognitive disabilities, etc. Moreover, inclusivity is also precisely what makes a company and brand more empathetic.
The concentration of financial services within one app can be a dream for hackers. Once users download such an open system, it provides access to a vast amount of customer data and assets like sensitive data or money. This is a reason why companies should ensure that their super apps are secure against fraud and threats like man-in-the-middle attacks while maintaining a smooth and frictionless customer experience.
In addition to mobile apps shielding, companies should also focus on natively integrating strong authentication into their apps. Tools such as digital identity verification, facial recognition, voice recognition, fingerprint readers, and behavioral biometrics let the apps quickly authenticate users and securely onboard new customers.
Social responsibility has become an important part of the business. The growing number of mobile app users made society understand that super app companies can influence the users’ ways of living and their attitude towards global issues. For example, your company can contribute to ecological sustainability by using eco-friendly vehicles and equipment or actively supporting waste reduction and recycling.
Reasons for Super Apps Success
To track its popularity, let’s take a look at the key reasons for super apps success. When pointing out factors that have contributed to a super app's success, it becomes obvious that all of them are closely related to the Asian culture. So why have super apps in China become so demanded and could their popularity extend in European countries and the US? Let’s try to find the answer by overviewing each of the 4 key reasons for super app success.
China is known for being a country with a mobile-first population because the very first contact with the Internet among its citizens occurred exactly via mobile devices. Such a situation was dictated by the shutdown of the Google search engine back in 2010, so the nation had nearly no previous desktop experience. Furthermore, the smartphone market in Asia is much wider and cheaper than anywhere around the world.
So how have these reasons impacted the growth in demand for super apps? The most influencing factor is that not so long ago, mobile devices had a limited storage issue, preventing users from downloading multiple apps and shaping their behavior towards the installation of those that offer a variety of services and offerings in one place — super apps.
Most of the Asian countries have a lot in common in terms of culture. This impacts the homogeneity of markets, allowing different businesses to operate in several countries in the region and offer uniformed services. So when supper apps were introduced, the demand for services they offered quickly spread to the whole region, contributing to the rise of super apps popularity.
According to KPMG, 73% of the Southeast Asia population is unbanked. The region is known as one that processes mainly online transactions. For example, there is a lack of places where you can pay with a credit card in China, but all vendors accept payments via WeChat and Alipay — the above-mentioned super apps.
Because the Chinese government was interested in finding ways to digitally connect with 1.5 bn of the country’s citizens, super apps gained strong government support that can not be underestimated. For example, the WeChat super app has all chances to replace the traditional ID documentation. Furthermore, there are hundreds of public services that are offered within the WeChat and Alipay super apps.
Considering the above-listed reasons, there’s no wonder why super apps have become so popular in Asian countries. And when it comes to European ones and the US, the digitalization of all the processes will probably lead to the super app trend in these regions as well.
Key Benefits of Super Apps
To point out more pros for the development of super apps and their implementation into business, let’s also look at the key benefits offered by this type of solution.
- Because the targeted audience of super apps is very wide, covering huge regions, such a type of solution reduces risks associated with product launches.
- "Mini-apps" that make up a super app do not require businesses to spend a large portion of their budget on development. It is so, because super apps open up space for integrations and adhere to the platform-based approach to scale their products.
- Super apps also enable a simpler onboarding process for new customers and reduced KYC (Know Your Customer) costs, achieved through automatic sync of data from customers’ all-encompassing social and financial profiles.
- Increase revenue growth. A super application, due to its wide functionality, usually attracts more users, which directly affects the company's income.
- Contribute to greater customer engagement. The super app combines many features and the user does not need to download multiple apps to perform daily tasks.
- Super apps can reduce re-acquisition costs by retaining users from other platforms.
- By integrating each new service, you have the opportunity to attract more audience and build a strong customer base;
- Attract more investors. As an app that can do everything, super apps attract much more users, which represents the potential for significant funding and investments.
In this way, super apps provide benefits to both owners who can be sure that their service will be in demand and customers who can hit the big market with minimum spendings and efforts.
Leveraging Super Apps to Business: the Most Successful Cases
Even though super apps are not as widespread as traditional mobile applications, there are some prominent examples that can give you a taste of how such solutions work and what potential they have. Below, we provide you with a brief overview of super apps best examples.
Super App WeChat
Instead of becoming one of the thousands of messaging apps, WeChat went ahead and got transformed into a super app for everything in life. Users of WeChat can pay bills, transfer money, book tickets, create company accounts, etc. — all in the convenience of a single platform. So there’s no wonder why the app used by more than two-thirds of the Chinese population is strongly supported by the government and expands its horizons with new services and offerings.
WeChat essential features
- Messaging and calling app
- WeChat localization
- QR code scan
- Search engine
- News feed
- Public services
- Booking rail and flight tickets, taxi
- Movie tickets
- Flash sales
- Features for companies (Marketing, CRM, Store, etc.)
Alipay Super App
Super apps are shaping the future of finance, and Alipay is one of the best examples of such a solution. This payment app is affiliated with China’s e-commerce Alibaba and offers a bunch of other features for finance management, shopping, and services ordering. A user of Alipay can enjoy the benefit of ordering food from restaurants, shopping online, getting discounts, and sending recommendations to friends within a single platform. The convenience of having such a solution at hand has resulted in Alipay growing its audience to 230 million daily active users.
Alipay essential features
- 120,000 lite apps (shops, outlets, and restaurants)
- Online transactions
- Support of 12 foreign currencies
Super App Grab
One more Asian super app is Grab owned by a Singapore startup. When talking about the Grab's most distinctive feature, it is the transport space. Nevertheless, with secured funds worth $1.46 billion, the platform is expanding into food delivery and online payments, proving its super app status and offering nearly anything in the consumer services sector.
Grab essential features
- Point system
As you can see, super apps vary in their functionality and the key thrusts. There are other solutions like the Gojek super app operating in Asia and Rappi super app working for Latin America’s audience, and it is predicted that very soon, the number of such solutions will grow worldwide. So if you are interested in taking a warm place in your region’s niche, the best time to consider super app development is now.
What Is the Future of Super Apps?
For the past 20 years, the model coming out of Silicon Valley has been the so-called single-purpose apps. But over the last 5 years, there has been a new trend of super Apps coming out of China.
With the world becoming more digitalized and new technologies reaching more and more remote regions, the number of mobile users will only grow. At the same time, people strive to simplify everything and therefore are looking for solutions that will provide the opportunity to perform routine tasks quickly and easily. Moreover, according to statistics, more and more mobile app consumers are becoming interested in integrating multiple digital experiences in one comprehensive super app. It follows that users are very loyal to apps that allow for a multifaceted experience.
Nowadays, super apps are rapidly growing in emerging markets such as India, South America, and Southeast Asia and are actively striving to expand their geographic presence. We can say for sure that super apps are in demand, which means they are here to stay and ready to serve end users’ multipurpose needs.
The Bottom Line
Drawing inspiration from the advance of technologies and brand new solutions transforming the world we live in, Emerline is always hungry for new challenges that allow us to take advantage of the vast expertise and ever-increasing passion for technology. So if you feel like a super app is something you need to grow your business, we are here to help you with turning your daring ideas into reality.
Take a look at such complex solutions as an online employee service platform developed by our teams to get a clearer picture of how we can contribute to your business success. You are welcome to contact us in case of any questions, at any time.
November 10, 2023