What are super apps and why are they trending worldwide? | Inquirer

What are super apps and why are they trending worldwide?

/ 08:16 AM August 09, 2021

Have you ever heard of Alipay, WeChat, Grab, and other super apps? If you haven’t, imagine several apps crammed into one! Fortunately, you might use an actual one soon as countries compete in the global super app race!

We will explain the gist of super apps, such as how they work and why they matter. Then, we will go through their different pros and cons. You may want to open a super app to understand this article further.

Technology is constantly improving, so we keep on seeing new gadgets and applications pop up. Super apps are just another way it’s changing, so we must be aware of how they work. In turn, this will help us make full use of them.<

What exactly are super apps?

What exactly are super apps?

Remember the catchphrase, “There’s an app for that.” from those old Apple commercials? The idea was these smartphone programs can help with almost any problem.

For example, online streaming apps let us watch hundreds of shows on the internet. Teleparty even allows us to watch with friends from far away.

If you noticed, every single app has a single purpose. However, certain apps are challenging this old model. They’re called super apps, and they’re popular in certain parts of the world.


One of the founders of BlackBerry coined the term in 2010. Mike Lazaridis said it’s a “closed ecosystem of many apps.” In other words, it’s a marketplace of services and offerings.

You should emphasize the word “market” in there. These have a variety that’s similar to your local supermarket. Here are just a few things you can do with them:

  • Food delivery service – These apps help in ordering food from restaurants. Most of them are regular dine-in locations. Others have ghost kitchens, so you can’t eat there.
  • Buying groceries – This feature has been a lifesaver during the pandemic. The app can send someone to buy your groceries for you.
  • Ride-hailing – They may work like Uber, getting a cab to your location. Some allow ride-sharing as well.
  • Delivering stuff for customers – Did you forget something at the office? Use one of these tools, and a driver will fetch it for you. It can also help you send stuff to other people.
  • Instant messaging – It works as a messaging app too. Let’s say you sent a gift to someone using the app. You may also use it to ask the recipient if they got your package in good condition.
  • Financial services – You won’t have to pay cash for these services. Instead, you may use the funds stored in the app.

Are super apps a big deal?

You may have noticed these “mini-apps” are similar to existing apps. Your Grubhub app takes care of food delivery. The Uber app can fetch a ride for you.

Signal lets you send instant messages. You probably pay for stuff with Venmo. Yet, they’re just “mini-programs” in one super app! Do you see the implications of this technology?

If you own one, you get to dominate several industries at once. Why use separate apps when a single one will do? Your customers will keep on paying you, no matter which service they pick!

The rise of super apps started with WeChat and Alipay. Users in China can use them almost anywhere in their country. However, the trend is spreading to other parts of the world.

Specifically, it’s growing in Latin America and Southeast Asia. Rappi and Magazine Luiza are particularly well-known in Brazil. Also, Indian car company Tata wants to launch its own.

Grab is the go-to super app for the Philippines. It started in Singapore, though. Perhaps we’ll see a Filipino super app in the future? We will have to wait and see.

If you’re in the United States, you might not have heard of super apps. Don’t worry though, The US and other Western countries want to catch up. Eventually, you’ll have a super app too!

Why are super apps beneficial?

Why are super apps beneficial?

It turns out it’s not just a nifty electronic tool! These smartphone apps benefit both businesses and their consumers. Read more about the positive effects of super apps below:

  • Reach customers 24/7 – Keep the cash flow going around the clock! With super apps, you can provide services even in late hours. In turn, you get to earn money while other stores are closed.
  • Handle businesses easier – One program can have all the features you need to manage employees remotely. It’s a handy tool, especially during this pandemic.
  • Beat the competition – Super apps allow companies to enter markets their competitors cannot. This is another reason why more countries want to ride the trend.
  • Personal finance tool – They can help you manage your money. Super apps let you see how much you’ve spent in a given period. What’s more, the data are organized in charts and graphs. In turn, they can help with planning a budget.

Are there any problems with super apps?

Are there any problems with super apps?

Despite being “super,” these still have some issues. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use them anymore. The key is to know what you’re getting into. Here’s a list of their drawbacks:

  • Being available 24/7 – You’ll need a server running around the clock. If you don’t, all the features in your smartphone tool become useless.
  • Expenses – You will have to spend a lot on hiring software developers. Making all these features work in one mobile program isn’t easy. What’s more, you’ll have to keep updating it. This means regularly paying for technical support.
  • Reliance on telecoms – People can only use super apps while connected to the internet. If that access fails, so will your super app. Unless you own a telecommunications company, this factor is out of your hands.
  • Cyber fraud – The money inside your super app is safe from pickpockets. However, they could be open to online criminals. If they hack yours, they can get personal data and credit card information.

Final Thoughts

If you’re in the United States, you’re in luck. PayPal will soon roll out its super app. What’s more, it will allow you to use cryptocurrency! To learn more about cryptos, check our other articles.

It’s another tech trend that’s spreading around the world. Similar to these all-purpose programs, it’s changing many aspects of our lives as well. Even better, you could let it change yours by investing!

Various smartphone tools make it easier to start your crypto portfolio. However, please be careful. Only use the money you can afford to lose. Moreover, learn all you can beforehand.

Learn more about super apps

Is Grab a super app?

Yes, it’s one of the biggest super apps in Southeast Asia. It started as a ride-hailing service. Now, it lets you order food, buy groceries, and even pay bills.

How do I become a super app?

If you’re planning to launch a super app, here’s a list of what you need:

  1. Start with a strong use case.
  2. Adapt the features to a local market.
  3. Expand your services via strategic partnerships.
  4. Branch out to other services and implement a mobile payment system.
  5. Make sure your app works with minimal phone memory.

Are super apps the future?

We may see more of these types of software around the world. Your country may have one soon! More companies see it as a lucrative way to provide their products and services.

Disclaimer: This article is not the official guide to super apps but is based on the author’s research or own personal experience.

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TAGS: apps, interesting topics, mobile apps, social media, super apps
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