Super Apps – key to understanding Asian business

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Super Apps – a key to understanding Asian business. The term “follow the money” suggests that you can disclose corruption by following money transfers.  To understand the emerging Asian markets and way of thinking business in Asia, “Follow the Super Apps” would be a relevant paraphrase of the term.  NBAS – sponsored by DNB –  is this month launching two podcasts and two webinars, giving insight into the Super App phenomenon.

What is a Super App?

A Super App is an app that gives you access to many different services. Whatever may be the story of your day – everything can be fixed through your Super App.  You can buy your morning coffee, order transport to work, get your lunch delivered, chat with your friends, shop and do your online banking and arrange your recreational activity – all with one app.  In China you would most likely use We Chat from Tencent. Or maybe Alipay or Meituan-Dianping. In South East Asia the race for dominance is on between Grab and SEA from Singapore and Gojek from Indonesia.

Read also: The Gojek-Grab SE Asia super app battle with a Meituan twist (The Ken)

Read also (Norwegian): Netthandelsmilliardær med Forrest Gump–strategi og inspirasjon fra Steve Jobs (Dagens Nærlingsliv)

Mass market of one

Super Apps challenge the conventional western business thinking that you should focus on your core business – build vertically and expand globally The business model for a Super App is to offer whatever the customer would need through a day – build horizontally and seek geographical dominance. The Super Apps target a customer as a as a single market. Payment service seems to be the key to a successful Super App –  the mantra being that if people trust you with their money, they are more likely to engage with your other products and services.

Mobile first

So why is Super Apps dominant in Asia and non-existent in the Western world? Living in Europe or the US, you would typically have at least 20 apps pluss on your phone for the services that one Super App can provide. Messy, unhandy and expensive for the customer. One explanation often offered for the difference, is that in the western economies customers did their business on computers before the smartphones appeared. When the smartphones surpassed the computers, Facebook, Amazon, Google and others continued their dominance on the new platform. Opposite, in the emerging mobile-first Asian markets, there was room for start-ups like Grab, Gojek and others to make profitable businesses based on people’s daily lives.

Read also Super Apps: How to Create a Mass Market of One (INSEAD)

Geopolitical game

What makes the Super App topic even more hot and relevant, is that US President Donald Trump recently banned WeChat – the King of Super Apps, with 1,2 billion users – from the American market. He fears the app will send data on US citizens to the Chinese government in Beijing. Hence, the Super Apps have become a part of the geopolitical game.

Read also: WeChat faces imminent US ban as Trump issues executive order against Chinese apps (The Independent)

Follow NBAS

Super Apps is an example of how Asia leads on in innovation. Super Apps is a key to understanding Asian business. NBAS offers you more in-depth insight ino the topic.  Listen in to our two podcasts, launched 10 August where our experts explain and discuss the Super App phenonemon. On 13 August our special insight panel will discuss whether Super Apps is the future of Fintech  Finally, on 20th of August, we will discuss the opportunities for start-ups wanting to develop a Super App .

Sign up here: 13. August. Super Apps – the future of Fintech?

Sign up here: 20. August. Super Apps & FinTech: What is the road forward, and who will charge it?

The podcasts and webinars are sponsored by DNB

This article is written by The NBAS-team with the linked artcles and our podcast episodes as sources of information.