A single app that line-up a bunch of services – or Super App – has become a popular buzzword around the world. The Chinese giants, AliPay and WeChat, are acknowledged as two of the most successful instance of ‘Super App’ that takes care of users’ multiple needs, such as cab booking, messaging, bill payment, food and grocery ordering, etc. Also, in Southeast Asia, emerging super apps, Grab and GoJek, execute the same strategy of do-everything platforms and receive substantial exposure. And, it will be a big pass up if we don’t talk about a ‘super app’ in India as well. Let’s begin.
What are Super Apps?
Think of a mall, a place where you can buy anything, talk to your friends, and maybe do some banking on top. Now, if this mall were an app that runs on your handset, maybe it would be called a Super App.
Super App is one such platform that provides a bunch of services under one umbrella. For instance, China’s WeChat, which started as a messaging app, expanded its services into cab, food ordering, payments, shopping to become a super app. As the name suggests, it is an all-in-one experience that allows people to access multiple different services. The worth of a super app lies in its simplicity and benefit of many services under one roof.
Super apps in India
India doesn’t have a super app that is in the league of WeChat yet. Currently, telecom service provider Reliance Jio is consolidated various services such as groceries, shopping, payments, ticket bookings, etc. The Tata Group will be an entrant in the super app space. Tata Group is carrying out ‘One Tata’ strategy around the pillars of 3S (simplification, synergy, and scale). Also, Paytm, an Alibaba Group investee, has brought together services like ticket bookings, shopping, banking, etc into one app. Further, Flipkart Group-owned payment app PhonePe tied up with Swiggy and Ola, Grofers, AJio, Delhi Metro, Decathlon, booking.com, etc to offer different services from within its own app. SBI and Bajaj are among the others in a competition to build a super app.
The Tata Group took advantage of the interruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic to line up accession and fit the missing pieces of its super app puzzle. It is now planning to launch its own super app that will probably bring all the needed offerings. As per the reports, the company is in talks to buy Big Basket, an online grocery app, and online pharmacy 1mg.
N Chandrasekaran, chairman, Tata Sons said, “It will be a super app, a lot of apps in apps and so on … We have a very big opportunity … How do we give a simple online experience connecting all of this, and at the same time a beautiful omnichannel experience? That is the vision.”
According to a rumor, Tata Group is in talks with Walmart Inc., Flipkart’s parent company, for a US$20 to US$25 billion investment in the platform.
Led by Asia’s richest man Mukesh Ambani, Reliance Industries took significant steps to top the super app race in India. Last year, the company launched an e-commerce platform, JioMart, which has engaged partnerships with a million businessmen. It also bought an online pharmacy app ‘Netmeds’ and supported its grocery retail plans through its acquisition of Future Retail Limited. Further, Reliance Jio and Facebook are coming together to figure out the possibility of Super App, similar to the Chinese platform WeChat. Reportedly, they are planning to develop the app using the WhatsApp platform as well as its huge user base.
Paytm, which started off as a payments app, is the leader in the race at present. The company has launched a mini-apps store and joined hands with companies like Domino’s, Ola and Decathlon. Mini apps are custom-built web apps that provide the users an app-like experience without actually needing to download one. Paytm has now set its sights on using the platform to sell multiple financial services such as mutual funds, digital gold, insurance, and consumer and business loans.
Bajaj Finance Ltd. will be the first non-banking financier to chase the super app strategy. The company has recently stepped up its wallet business. Its cross-sell franchise has about 27 million customers with around 70 per cent of all no-cost EMI loans given for offline consumer durable purchases being through it.
Digital payments major PhonePe, to achieve its super app dream, is going the partnership way. It works in an app-in-app model, where they allow the users to access a host of services without actually needing to download different apps. In this way, PhonePe offers cab booking, travel and flight booking, entertainment, healthcare and many other services under one roof.
Nothing in India is currently close to replicating the success of WeChat. For the unversed, WeChat is the ultimate super app. You can you can hail a cab, you can do banking, talk to your friends and a whole host of mini-programs within the app lets you do almost everything you can imagine. It is what many entrepreneurs in India have been trying to replicate.
In the end, India is considered to be one of the most promising tech markets of the world. Owing to the rising incomes among its 1,3 billion population and fast adoption of smartphones, India opens to Super App.