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Are super-apps really coming to the West?

Are super-apps really coming to the West?

Should we expect super-apps in the West soon?

The super-app model keeps growing fast in Asia and is emerging in Latin America. After spending some great time in both parts of the world, I have to say that the overall super-app experience is outstanding. In the West, it is still unclear whether there is a real user demand for a super-app or for an alternative model that would greatly simplify our overly fragmented mobile user experience today.

If the model would ever emerge in the West, it would necessary come from high-frequency used apps as it occurred elsewhere: food delivery (Rappi), ride-hailing (Grab, GoJek, Ola), instant messaging (WeChat) or digital payment (AliPay, PayTM) and then expand to other services. Players like Uber or Facebook actively look for new growth drivers. They see great opportunities in leveraging their wallet feature to diversify and collect more and more accurate data on their huge existing customer base.

Using their own approach, Western tech giants started to consolidate their services to provide a more seamless smartphone experience. For instance, Uber, which already offers ride-hailing, micro-mobility options and food-delivery, launched a mobility ticketing service in several cities in the world called Uber Transit. Late October 2019, the tech giant launched Uber Money to offer financial services to its drivers. The new service includes Uber Wallet which could be the backbone of Uber’s super-app strategy. For his part, Mark Zuckerberg announced his clear ambition to build a super-app by enhancing interactions between the different apps that are part of Facebook (in particular Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and Whatsapp).

In October 2019, Uber announced a partnership with French micro-mobility company CityScoot: scooters can be ordered straight from the Uber app. It is a very unique decision from Uber, which controlled every service on its platform until then. But, to build a super-app like WeChat or AliPay, Western giants will need to tie partnerships with third parties like the one with CityScoot. A partnership-based model is far from what Western high-frequency apps are used to but it is unlikely that Uber or Facebook will be able to handle all services by themselves.

While the domination of one single actor over all daily services is unlikely in the West, we can anticipate the emergence of a different model, derived from super-apps, with a limited number of players providing the majority of our needs via partnerships and a highly optimized interaction between their services. In other words, a digital ecosystem in which all actors collaborate to reduce frictions between services, providing a seamless in-app mobile experience. To ensure great efficiency of the model, most service providers need to have their data freely available. Of course, the extensive use of APIs is an inherent part of this perspective.

We are tired of downloading new apps, signing-up, forgetting our passwords, etc.

Typically, look at how Google operates when you search for movie tickets at “Pathé Boulogne”: it shows you all options available on its own platform, pre-fills everything and brings you directly to the checkout page of Pathé-Gaumont. 3 clicks to reach the payment page! This is a deep-rooted trend: players tend to handle most of the purchasing process before handing over to the actor at the very end of the transaction process.

Google acting as a one-stop-shop, drastically improving the purchasing experience

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