Prefixing the term ‘super’ only makes a simple journalist and photographer into the best superhero the world has ever seen! The same is the case with mobile applications. Simple applications or simply ‘apps’ mean that they are designed to provide a specific utility or execute a particular task. However, super apps, on the other hand, are designed to execute multiple tasks and offer a wide range of utilities.
The term ‘Super app’ was coined by one of the most uncanny people – the founder of BlackBerry Mike Lazaridis, way back in 2010. He defined it as a closed ecosystem of multiple applications that people would use every day because they offer such a seamless, integrated, contextualized, and efficient experience!
True to that definition, super apps are not a mere agglomeration of multiple apps pressed together but rather a complete ecosystem of applications where one supports the other, and one data can be used to make another app function better!
Maybe, so perhaps, by definition, were born in Canada, but today, super apps are synonymous with a couple of big names in the Asian market, and to be specific, apps from China, Indonesia, and India. There might be a few others that are catching up, but it cannot be denied that even those apps are springing out of Asian countries like Singapore and Japan.
The first name that probably comes to the minds of many people at the very mention of the word super apps is the Chinese app WeChat.
WeChat, as the name implies, was launched as a messaging app way back in 2011. Today, it has metamorphosed itself into a complete ecosystem that does not stop with a few but runs about 1 million mini-programs that offer a multitude of utilities. The utilities range from booking a taxi, local business transactions, government services, connecting with celebrities, and even requesting alone. What made WeChat an immense immediate success is its closed ecosystem of payments. All the transactions that happen within the WeChat ecosystem or facilitated through its payment system. This has contributed to WeChat achieving an ARPU (average revenue per user) of $7 as opposed to WhatsApp, which has just a dollar per user.
Alipay is a part of the Alibaba ecosystem. It is even more tightly knit than WeChat, and the backbone of the entire super app lies in its payment method. The payment method is rightly at the forefront of the ecosystem because it is popular on some of the biggest e-commerce platforms in China – the Taboo and Tmall. Both these platforms are owned by the Alibaba group. Alipay is a perfect example of how a finance-based smart super app because the system should function. The company collects social and transactional data from all its e-commerce partners and sends it to its financial services arm, the Ant Financial. The financial arm uses all this data to build a credit scoring system and uses this data for all merchants and consumers. Therefore, it immediately transforms itself into a quick business loan and personal loan company. Since the credibility is based on real data, the processing is swift, and the percentage of default is quite low.
Launching a super app requires insane effort to come up with modules and features to support more that 50+ on-demand services.
The advantages of super apps
Super applications present a host of advantages to almost every party involved – the super app company, the users of super apps, and even developers who develop modules and many programs for the super applications.
What becomes a product launch when releasing a new application is just a matter of a Software Update with some advertising when it is present within a super app! This means that your new utility will open to an already existing audience, and the data that you have about your users can only mean that your advertising efforts are bound to be more streamlined and efficient. You do not have to speculate or bank on the probabilities offered by third-party advertising platforms but rather, use your own data to precisely hit your target audience.
Most of the models or the mini-apps within the super app ecosystem are not developed by the company. In an attempt to increase revenue and visibility, there are a lot of third-party companies that keep up a steady supply of ‘app fuel’ for the super app ecosystems. This provides business opportunities for both businesses and developers who would like to capitalize on the opportunity and the user base provided by apps like WeChat and Alipay.
Alipay and its financial wing Ant Financials reduced the loan application and process time to an average of three minutes – that is about the time it takes to order your food for home delivery! With the vast wealth of data, it is easy to complete the KYC/AML formalities. Data automatically synced from the customers’ financial, social, and transactional profiles help the super app encompass a great deal of information about the customer, and onboarding becomes a simple and efficient process.
An example from the West
We have been looking a lot about super apps from Asian superpowers. However, even Silicon Valley has had its own super app which might not have been essentially classified so even by the most technologically aware users. We are talking about Google maps!
- Google maps is a search engine that you can search for a place and get its precise location on a map.
- It is also a navigation engine where you can receive navigation details, and it helps you plan your daily commute.
- It also becomes a platform for booking a cab as you can book your Uber ride from within Google maps.
- It becomes a restaurant reservation app as you can use services like OpenTable and Resy.
- You can organize food delivery by using DoorDash.
- On the desktop version, you can even book a flight to the destination that you are searching for.
- When you are searching for a spa or a clinic, you can book an appointment with a beautician or a doctor right within the app.
Verizon and Facebook have been making attempts to create their own super app ecosystems, but they might not have been as successful as their eastern counterparts or even Google for that matter.
A few more from the East
A super app that has possibly the most inspiring story is Go-Jek from Indonesia. It was the first Unicorn from the country and has been funded by big names like Google. It has become so popular a name that there is a constant demand for a Go-Jek clone app to make a quick entry into the market.
Japan has its own line of super apps, literally! The super app ‘Line’ gives a host of utilities like its own social credit score system using AI, microloan system, and food delivery.
The Singapore-based Grab – a taxi-booking app company – has raised about $2 billion to launch its own payment service, a telehealth platform, a food delivery service, a micro-loan platform, and an online insurance marketplace for entrepreneurs.
In India, the super app space has been dominated by two names, Paytm and Jio. Paytm is more of a payment services provider that integrates mobile recharges, money transfer, bill payments, flight booking, food ordering, and e-commerce into a single app. Jio, on the other hand, is an app provided by a telecom service provider known for its ridiculously affordable data plans. Jio even has its own movie and show streaming platform.
Whether or not super apps will become popular in the United States and Europe as much as it is in the orient remains a billion-dollar question to be answered. There are restrictions on data protection and user privacy that might not make it quite easy for businesses to launch similar apps in the West. However, it does not mean that the demand to develop a super app has subsided. Maybe there is a way to comply with or circumvent the legal requirements and launch an app that provides multiple utilities.
Should you have a requirement to launch your own super app, all you need to do is get in touch with an app development company that specializes in Gojek clone app development or any other super app for that matter. The organization will take care to understand your requirements and also to create and customize the app for you.