FINANCE TODAY | ISSUE NO.26
WHAT ARE SUPERAPPS EXACTLY?
What differentiates Superapps from other tech platforms is that they offer a range of features and drive high daily user engagement across a large user base. An article by CPP Investments compares Superapps to an “operating platform for mobile devices” (Walsh et al., 2021). What makes Supperapps so appealing to consumers is they focus on providing convenient, digital solutions in the social media, payments, ride hailing, online delivery, and e-commerce spaces. Most have achieved their large scale by first cultivating a core offering and then adding additional functions – without having to spend much to get their users to try these new products.
SUPERB GROWTH STRATEGIES
The success of Superapps has been driven by a combination of high daily usage, strong brand loyalty, and uniquely developing market conditions. Most Superapps build a core competency in one of the five main spaces mentioned above and expand from there. Many Superapps form partnerships outside their core offering in order to expand and have a very high number of daily active users, which allows the Superapps to gather rich user data. As an example, most WeChat users log into the platform at least ten times daily (Iqbal, 2020). Having access to a high volume of customer data is very advantageous since it unlocks valuable cost synergies, including the ability to cross-sell, up-sell, and lower the new customer acquisition cost. Supperapps also thrive in markets where smartphone and internet penetration occurred simultaneously, allowing the platforms to shape consumer behaviour. In developing markets like Asia and India, Superapps are very useful in that they address gaps in physical infrastructure, such as a lack of physical bank branches. The emergence of a wealthier consumer class, who is more eager to spend, also helped propel their success. Finally, more lenient technology laws and protectionist measures have contributed to the superb growth of Superapps as well.
THE FUTURE AND BEYOND: ASIA, AFRICA, AND LATIN AMERICA
The fact that Superapps boast a very solid business structure is clear, leaving many investors wondering if this could be the next big tech trend in the markets. Expansion into the African and Indian markets is imminent, given that both markets have the right combination of factors to give rise to more Superapps. As previously stated, infrastructure gaps are abundant in both economies, and provide a good opportunity for the large platforms to offer solutions. CPP Investments predicts that a Superapp providing easy payment functionality could be the next big thing, considering that there is minimal electronic payment penetration and few people have physical bank accounts in Africa and India (Walsh et al., 2021). An additional benefit to entering the African and Indian market is the rising growth in per capita income and persistent smartphone adoption. Latin America is also a potential hotspot for Superapp growth as that market is more developed while also maintaining some areas of growth.
SUPERAPPS CLOSER TO HOME
Superapps have not yet been adopted in the European and North American markets, which indicates that expansion into markets closer to home may play out differently. Differences in consumer preferences and regulations are two contributing factors to why Superapps have not been widely adopted in our home market. Since Europe and North America are already developed markets with existing giant tech platforms, consumers do not want for new banking-commerce or ride sharing options, and staunchly support their favourite apps. In the U.S, Amazon holds a 40% market share in e-commerce, and Uber makes up 70% of the ride-hailing market (Walsh et al., 2021). European and North American consumers also prefer an unbundled marketplace and would rather toggle between various apps at their discretion, as opposed to consolidating their activities to one platform. Tougher regulatory restrictions and data-privacy laws add an additional barrier to entry for potential Superapps to enter these markets. Well-known players like Microsoft, Google, and Apple continue to scale their businesses with separate product-specific apps, which may be the closest North American and European markets ever get to Superapps.
INNOVATIVE INVESTMENT POTENTIAL
The immense popularity, growth, and scalability of Superapps indicate that they are going to be drivers of change in many markets. The Superapp business model of adding incremental features to fuel growth of an already profitable core business is very appealing. The expansion into new underdeveloped markets is an additional plus, as is the opportunity forSuperapps to partner with financial service providers to offer financial products. Overall, while Superapps are not well-known closer to home, they should definitely be on an investor’s radar as a source of disruptive innovation and future success.
Iqbal, M. (2020, October 30). WeChat Revenue and Usage Statistics (2020). Business of Apps. https://www.businessofapps.com/data/wechat-statistics/#:~:text=WeChat%20monthly%20active%20users%2C%20million&text=Tencent%20announced%20in%20early%202019,population%20of%20the%20entire%20Americas.
Walsh, C., Grewal, R., & Udaskin, J. (2021, February 2). SuperApps dominate digital life in Asia. Will they do the same in other markets? CPP Investments. https://www.cppinvestments.com/insights/superapps-dominate-digital-life-in-asia-will-they-do-the-same-in-other-markets.