Half of the global population will start using more than one super-app by 2027, with Europe trailing behind Asia for a share of the market, according to Gartner.
Super-apps, which originated in Asia and include platforms such as WeChat, Gojek and Grab, began as messaging apps before expanding their services to include features such as mobile payments, e-commerce, ride-hailing, food delivery, and social networking.
These apps have surged in popularity in Asia due to their simplicity, flexibility and ability to reduce clutter on mobile devices, improving financial organisation.
“The concept of super-apps stems from a growing demand for convenience and seamless user experiences. This is particularly useful in a world where there are so many commercial apps and offerings from multiple businesses,” said Jeremy Baber, CEO of Lanistar, a London-based fintech.
The Middle East region has also joined the bandwagon. A report commissioned by Mastercard Middle East and Africa in December 2021 found that the Middle East and Africa was emerging fast as the region with “potentially fertile ground for super-app growth”.
The Middle East and Africa region is projected to become the most populated area in the world, with a forecast population of 3.4 billion by 2050.
In April, UAE telecoms operator e&, formerly Etisalat, signed a binding agreement with Uber Technologies Inc to invest $400 million in exchange for a majority stake in Careem’s super-app business.
This month, the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange (ADX) partnered with Tawasal SuperApp, the multi-purpose messenger and super app, to enable investors to access real-time ADX updates directly within the app.
In May, Egypt-based Super App Aladdin launched the first phase of Alaa El-Din application to allow users to benefit from over 100 diverse services, including smart mobility, e-payments, food and beverages delivery, medical and logistic services.
However, Europe is falling behind in the super-app race, Baber said.
“We have seen some household names begin to explore the possibility of diversifying their apps, such as Uber, Klarna and Lydia, but have much further to go to reach super-app status,” he added.
However, regulators in the US and Europe have become increasingly critical of companies developing super-apps, stating that they heighten the risk of data breaches and store more personal data to facilitate the delivery of their services.
“Like any emerging technology, product or app, risks often come into play. Super-apps must be built with security in mind and given their vast reach across industries while underpinned by financial transactions, regulation is already at the top of the agenda," Baber stated.
(Editing by Seban Scaria email@example.com)