Taking on Super Apps
What are Super Apps
When you hear the word super apps, superpowers come to mind. An app that has powers beyond what is normally available. This isn’t far from the truth, as super apps provide access to other mini-applications that make it easier to accomplish various tasks. Super apps function like an ecosystem. They have mini apps that enable access to various services within just one app. Some popular super apps you may have encountered are Jumia Pay, Safe Boda, Gozem, Palm Pay, Yalla, Gokada, MTN’s Ayoba, etc. These apps all offer a variety of services.
Characteristics of Super Apps
- Interaction Between Product/Service Channels
Super apps allow users to freely flow between service channels and interact with each service at the same speed and effectiveness. Users can transition between the channels seamlessly. The application should maintain its high-level performance even with low-speed internet or low battery, and much more.
2. Common Components
There is consistency in the user interface and experience. Despite having diverse services and products, there should be common pages and a consistent experience across all the services for the user.
3. Data Sharing Between Services
The data and activity of the user should be synced and accessed across all channels. There should be one login into the super app that gives access to all the services offered. User data such as address, card info should be easily accessible across any of the services.
4. Security Consistency
Due to the amount of sensitive user information Super apps have access to they need to ensure that the apps have high level security and the user data is protected. Maintaining high level security in these apps is more complicated compared to conventional mobile apps. This is because Super Apps involve multiple customer journeys and complex features and operations.
The Benefits of Super Apps
Super apps not only offer benefits to customers but also the companies. When done right, it’s a win-win. Some of the benefits of super apps are:
- The mini applications cost a lot less than traditional apps.
- The mini programs load faster since they are cached into the phone’s memory. They don’t require updates as the latest version automatically loads.
- They offer a host of services to the user and make it easier to access these services.
- Users do not have to use multiple apps to access a service and can find all of that within one app; an all in one solution.
- Increased customer base as the integration of other products and services increases traffic and cross promotion.
- They attract investors who are looking for the next big thing. A product that will be widely adopted and offers multiple income streams, increasing the revenue potential.
- Mini apps are easy to use. Those who aren’t very familiar with technology can access these features and they save phone memory and storage.
Super Apps in/for Africa and the Middle East
Super apps have the opportunity to thrive better in economies with younger demographics. A cohort of people who are digital savvy and ready to adopt new technologies. People aged 30 and below make up over 55% of the population in the Middle East while over 60% of the African population is under 25. These numbers give an idea of the large market for super apps in these regions.
In recent years we have seen the rise of super apps in these regions. These platforms are seeking to capture new internet users, people who haven’t used PCs prior or are used to downloading multiple apps for various needs. They also offer a great solution for users who buy low-end phones and data at relatively high rates and are often financially excluded. The World Economic Forum reports that 85% of all smartphones shipped to Africa in 2021 were low-end, making super apps an effective option to save on broadband and storage.
Examples of Super Apps in UAE & Africa
- Careem (UAE) — Ride-hailing and food delivery
- Jumia (Nigeria) — Online shopping
- Talabat (Kuwait) — Food delivery
- Yassir (Morocco) — Ride-hailing
- M-Pesa (Kenya) — Bill payments, e-commerce and international money transfers
- Halan (Egypt) — Transportation and delivery service.
- Gokada (Nigeria) — Ride-hailing service that also offers delivery and other services.
- Temtem (Tunisia) — Ride-hailing service.
- SafeBoda (Uganda) — Ride-hailing service.
SMEs are a major driver for economic development in Africa and the Middle East. These SMEs turn to super apps to support their business management functions, making them an important customer segment. Super apps are known to offer financial , ecommerce, transportation and messaging services. These are major aspects of SMEs that enable them to successfully transact with both suppliers and customers. Super apps offer SMEs all these features directly from their smartphones, allowing them to digitize their business.
While super apps offer great opportunities for both users and the businesses, there have been some arguments against super apps including that they offer substandard products that are also complex to use. There is also the argument that super apps benefit the businesses more than they benefit the users. This is especially because these are often services the business would usually outsource to fully transact with their users.
However, when done right, super apps offer great benefits to economies such as financial inclusion. Super apps can offer financial inclusion by providing a wide range of services, including digital payments and financial services, which can be easily accessed through one platform. An Example of this is M-Pesa, that allows mobile-based money transfer, financing and micro-financing, that has helped millions of people in Africa access financial services who previously lacked access to traditional banking services.
Super Apps in the Middle East and Africa are beginning to rise and have seen greater adoption, especially among lower income groups. This is due to the convenience they provide as well as access to everyday services.