Already in widespread use in China and other nations, super apps are yet to reach mainstream appeal across the West. While individual smart phone apps are extraordinarily popular, few of these applications offer more than a few core services to users. In China, WeChat is the definitive super app, with users being able to do everything from book a taxi, send messages, buy products or enquire about banking services.
According to a study by PYMNTS, customers want access to a super app that combines a number of activities on a single platform. The survey found that 67% of respondents would like to see at least two activities integrated into a single app, illustrating the increasing demand for platforms like WeChat in the US and Europe.
While no single app may yet live up to the title of super app across the West, a number of social media platforms having expressed their intention of bundling more products together under a single title to make the life of their customers easier.
With close to 230 million daily active users, Snap has a very large user base and is working to build into a super app. Thanks in part to the parent company of WeChat, Tencent, investing 12 per cent in Snap, the social media company is learning how to develop the current product offering to better meet the needs of consumers in many areas of their life.
In practice, this means giving developers the ability to build new services based on the augmented reality technology they possess. A number of so-called mini apps have also been introduced into the Snap ecosystem, including new services through Poshmark and Verishop and being able to purchase movie tickets from Atom.
There are only a few social media companies and platforms who are not experimenting with integrating more services into the core platform. WhatsApp is working to introduce loan applications through the platform and TikTok already offered an in-app shopping experience.
Mainstream retailers are also working to build financial services based super apps that enable users to manage all of their money from one single app. Hazel by Walmart have acquired a number of Fintech start-ups including Even Responsible Finance, an early wage access firm, and ONE Finance, a neobank, with the aim to create a super app for their shoppers and staff.
“Brands – large and small – in all sectors are trying to create more value for their customers and now have the opportunity to apply ‘super app’ thinking”, says Simon Torrance, CEO of Embedded Finance & Super App Strategies. “Technologies are now mature and cost effective to allow any company to complement their own services with relevant and useful 3rd party digital services to increase customer loyalty and generate new high margin new revenues”.
The potential of these nascent super apps to grow is significant, but they face challenges such as an uncertain regulatory environment and competition from tech giants. What is clear, is the drive by a broad range of social media companies and other businesses to bundle their services together for an improved customer experience.
It may be the case that in a few years, people living in cities like London and Paris will be able to open their social media app and be able to order food directly to the house, take out a loan and buy a car.
We will continue this discussion at FTT Embedded Finance & Super Apps on 26th April, London, where we focus on how Super Apps are redefining the future of financial services. Register now to join our community as we explore the key trends, technologies and innovations that are driving embedded finance & super apps in 2022 and beyond.
Written by Finbarr Toesland, Editorial Contributor.