Super-apps are now in the spotlight in the battle to attract customers away from traditional banks and into the arms of fintech disruptors.
Square, PayPal and Google are all in the game, and the race is on to design super-apps that put all your financial needs in one place.
Well, it sounds good.
The problem with super-apps, as with similar ideas from the past, is that producing (essentially) an app within an app within an app, generates complexity. And complexity, when it comes to customers, is a dangerous road to follow.
There was huge excitement in the billing world many years ago when the concept of electronic presentment emerged (we never did discover why it was presentment, not presentation). The customer pitch was that it cut out the need for paper and saved the planet (and money). In some cases you could manage your account online to the point of turning dials to choose your mixture of green energy. This was, of course, not possible.
The result was a large number of electronic bills with different choices and functionalities. So companies turned to a simliar concept to super-apps and decided to be the electronic presentment ‘broker’, whereby customers got one portal for all their bills. It never became a ‘thing’ and to this day the debate rumbles on as to whether customers even need bills anymore.
With its recent track record of customer focused innovation, PayPal would be our favourite to pull this off. Super-apps need to be easy to use and they have to be designed with the customer experience in mind. And security.
In surveys, it turns out that customers are in favour of super-apps, with their personalised choices in one easy to access, secure place.
There is, however, a very real chance that some companies will fall over by making their super-apps too complicated and end up putting customers off.
It is also interesting to ponder how companies such as Facebook will react. Whilst not strictly a payments player, the company has long tried to embed payments into its offerings, and is still trying to do something useful with what started life as Libra. One problem, of course, is that its portfolio is sprawling and has individual brands. It is unlikely that such a diverse company would get into the world of super-apps, but time will tell.
It is, however, a great opportunity for fintech disruptors as it is unlikely that traditional banks would be equipped to design such a thing. The success of super-apps will be a good test of which company understands the customer the best.
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