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Rise and Rise of Super Apps

Super apps are the next big happening in the payments realm, predicts a research study by FIS, titled ‘Global Payments Report – 2022’:

Payments have come to be redefined in a big way with the traditional lines between banking, payments and commerce getting dissolved, finds the Global Payments Report – 2022 by FIS, the fintech company that offers a range of financial products and services to banks, merchant institutions and capital market. The study also underlines how the connected world is creating new opportunities to shape the future of commerce and financial services.

The report, which essentially covers how payment systems have evolved in various geographies, has an interesting section on super apps and how they have come to gain sweeping powers in the recent time. Says the study: “Super apps are the always-open front door to a new generation of immersive digital experiences – one that uses data, artificial intelligence and the cloud to give users a contextually relevant experience that spans well beyond a single need or purpose, whether that be making a payment or communicating with a friend. The rise of super apps raises competitive stakes for brand experiences everywhere. They’re shaping a new future of commerce that redefines how consumers shop, pay and connect with brands.”


The report defines super app as an umbrella term to describe combinations of popular digital services all housed within a single app. It provides a single-entry point and user experience to access many services consumers expect – under one roof. From social interactions and shopping to delivery and ride hailing, banking and investing to budgeting and payments, super apps combine an ever-expanding range of services in a singular immersive experience, it adds.

The report predicts that once super apps build sufficient scale, they have the power to use their volumes of rich first-party data to create a comprehensive customer profile and experiment with new ways to transform and elevate the customer experience.


The report traces the genesis of super apps to Asia and says: “The rise of super apps in China followed a development pattern that leveraged the best technologies of the time. Lacking legacy banking and payment infrastructure, growth in large APAC economies coincided with the widespread availability of inexpensive mobile technology. Hundreds of millions of consumers were coming online at once. Relatively few emerging APAC consumers had access to bank accounts or physical credit cards, but virtually all of them had a mobile phone.”

The report maintains that super apps are not just a glimpse into the future – they are the living future. “From Paytm in India to Zalo in Vietnam, the world will continue to look to APAC for leadership in super app best practices. India’s proposed Consumer Protection (e-commerce) Rules, 2020 amendment could soon change super app strategies for Indian players, if rules around related parties, data sharing and cross-selling are impacted,” says the report.

Super apps have also come to address critical financial inclusion, says the report, adding: “China’s covid tracking system, Health Code, was implemented as a mini program within WeChat and Alipay. The app was downloaded more than 50 million times within the first 2 weeks of release, reaching more than 90% of the population of Hangzhou, Zhejiang province.”


The report finds that super apps use security best practices to authenticate users. Once safely inside the walled garden, payments are simple, secure and, in many cases, instant. Super apps are growing adept at leveraging trust with customers established through critical touchpoints like payments to broaden and deepen customer engagement and bring a growing share of their spend within their apps, it adds.

The report also states that super apps are innovation multipliers, helping open payments become more accessible and driving adoption beyond traditional acceptance networks. “Payment innovations like QR codes have gained broad global acceptance in large part by the wide exposure offered by super apps. China-based UnionPay reports that 85% of its users paid via a QR code in 2020,” it adds.

The report predicts that financial institutions, neobanks, P2P payment companies and even retailers could all find themselves caught in the crossfire of super app competition. “For retailers, keeping up with the pace of interaction with all the different payment methods in a super app requires a very different marketing approach. It’s not just the ‘set up and leave it’ like you do with a credit card network. You’ve got to work with various different tools, including data and information about your customers you didn’t necessarily know before, that could impact your approach these customers,” it adds.

The report also reveals that Amazon, Facebook, PayPal, Square and Walmart have all taken steps to morph their existing offerings into super apps. However, “people in the East tend to be very happy to have a single source for everything, but in the U.S. and Europe, that’s not necessarily the case. People also have data and privacy concerns that exist in the West that don’t exist at that level in the East. That may be one of the challenges that any super app faces in becoming truly global,” says the report.

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