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The Race To Become The No. 1 Super App

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Let’s begin with understanding what a Super App means? 

A single Super App that has an umbrella of different services/Apps within. A portal to the internet for a mobile-first generation. – (according to your friends at Google) 

In much simpler terms imagine having one App that could do everything for you from ordering your midday meal to providing carpooling services or using an instant messaging App that also offers online payment options – just one App. 

Yes!! This concept does exist and it’s popularly known as Super-App. WeChat is one App that went through an instant messaging App to basically everything and simply qualifies as the pioneer for the recently emerged category.  

Disclaimer: The term Super App is yet evolving and will continue to do so in its due course of time. Though Super Apps have now more comprehensively been deconstructed, marking what distinctive components or features an App needs to possess to qualify as a Super App, what we’ve attempted to do is show how other Apps are following the trend of offering more than one service through one App.

5 Super Apps That Are Game Changers 

WeChat: 

If you’ve never used it you’ve definitely heard about it. The popular App with over a billion users is WeChat. A product of the gaming giant Tencent, introduced to the world in 2011 as a messaging platform.

The lifestyle App of China as they now call it, currently offers more than one million services through its mini-programmes (Apps created by third-party companies and accessible through WeChat). Let’s touch upon this briefly below:  

  • Instant Messaging including voice-messaging and calls, video chat
  • Sharing of Photos 
  • Sharing real-time location with your contact list such as friends and family 
  • Access Articles, News and other information 
  • WeChat Pay: Transfer payments to your contact list
  • Access to third-party services: through mini-programs to provide a diverse range of services such as food ordering.
  • Access to Public Services: Offers a lot of public services e.g. booking an Appointment with the doctor through WeChat

Careem

Though the founder of the Careem App is a Pakistani, the App itself was launched in the U.A.E which became the reason for debate, arguing if the App was a Pakistani App or a Middle – eastern by origin. However, that debate is irrelevant.  

What’s relevant is what the masses in the Middle East and Pakistan considered the perfect substitute to the inefficient taxi service system, Careem after its successful ride-hailing services has now ventured into a new division called Careem Now, which has also begun food delivery service. 

The growth is truly remarkable, how the App started with just 2 options for booking your ride to currently providing 7 options including bike delivery, city to city, and sending credit to anyone in your contact list which will be added to their Careem wallet. 

The App has now reached new markets and now is also available in Amman, Riyadh, Dammam, and Makkah whereas the food delivery service has already begun in Pakistan’s largest city Karachi.

Careem Now will be functioning as a three-dimensional marketplace catering to restaurants, delivery partners (captains), and customers.

The new model is designed to cater small-medium and big food outlets offering a fixed monthly fee model, the fee will cover the cost of delivery and the cost of processing digital payments minus what the customer has already paid which is charged to the restaurant.

For small businesses or restaurants, Careem has set a 5 percent commission model while for larger orders it may increase to over 17 percent under the new model.

For customers in Karachi, the delivery fee is PKR 50 which is the lowest Careem has set for any of its markets and will allow the customers to track the delivery in real-time. 

“Careem has over 33 million customers on its platform as reported by Menabytes and is ready to invest over $150 million in Careem Now.”


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WhatsApp

WhatsApp revolutionized communication using technology through its instant message App. With its clean design and easy to use features, it became an instant hit. From sharing messages to pictures, videos, to moving into the realm of voice calls and video chat and the option of adding stories that last 24 hours.  

The Facebook-owned messaging service also launched WhatsApp Business, introduced to facilitate small-medium enterprises to post product or service catalogues and stock links; it also allows advertisers on Facebook to create links through to their WhatsApp accounts.

Recently WhatsApp joined the race to become the next big Super App by introducing online payments on the App. WhatsApp users in Brazil were the first to experience this new service and now can send and receive money by way of its messaging after witnessing a brief suspension period

WhatsApp has always been a free to use App for users across the globe but the App does charge businesses a 3.99% processing fee to be able to benefit from the payment feature – this will merely be done using a six-digit PIN or fingerprint to complete transactions.

Users can make use of this service by simply connecting their respective accounts with their Visa or Mastercard credit or Debit Card. 

Facebook had a prolonged period of delay to introduce the same service in India, probably even to the extent that it was debated whether the service should be launched in India but due to regulatory restrictions, it was unable to tap into one of the biggest markets in terms of users. India has a staggering 400 million monthly active users as reported in 2019, while second-largest market Brazil has 120 million MAUs.

WhatsApp has definitely penetrated the fintech world alongside other services like  Google Pay and Paytm, except WhatsApp provides you with the service within a messaging App. 

The data from the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) records show that WhatsApp Pay processed 0.56 million transactions worth Rs 36.44 crore as of January 2021 against the 0.81 million transactions worth Rs 29.72 crore it recorded in December 2020.


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Foodpanda

Foodpanda has been at the heart of the food delivery value chain alongside UberEats and has been the leading App since its inception in Pakistan.  

With fewer and less powerful competitors at play, Foodpanda had the ideal opportunity to first capture the market by bridging the gap between food vendors and customers through an affordable pricing strategy, efficient booking and delivery system.   

Its easy-to-use platform provides users with the option to explore different menus from a number of restaurants and cafes with just a few clicks on their smart devices. 

Foodpanda, owned by Delivery Hero SE, currently operates in 50 countries and territories and is headquartered in Berlin, Germany.

The business model operates in a way that charges a registration fee for restaurants and amounts from (Rs 15,000 or $100) to (Rs 23,000 or $150). This is a one-time registration amount.

It then charges a commission from every restaurant listed on the App which amounts to 15% to 25% (inclusive of all taxes) of the total order.

One of the reports shows that Foodpanda earns more than 40% of revenue from the delivery business, while 10% profit from ads.

The App also generates money by suggesting or recommending credit cards of different banks to its users while the banks’ award special discounts and offers to make more transactions through their respective banks. 

The App has now after so much so dominating the food delivery service market has ventured into grocery delivery service in the year 2020. Hence becoming more like a Super App.

It has already launched operations under the name of Pandamart and is operational in Japan, Cambodia, Laos and eight Asian countries.

Pandamart is Foodpanda’s very own online shop that delivers groceries and everyday essentials like snacks and confectionery, personal care, household essentials and fresh produce within 30 minutes. The categories listed in Pakistan are as follows:

  1. Meat fruit and vegetables 
  2. Bakery, spreads and breakfast 
  3. Dairy products 
  4. Beverages 
  5. Snacks and confectionery 
  6. Cosmetics 
  7. Chocolates 
  8. Household essentials – cleaning supplies, polish 
  9. Electronics 
  10. Mobile accessories 
  11. Personal hygiene 
  12. Babycare 
  13. Tea and coffee 
  14. Kitchen essentials 
  15. Personal care 
  16. Grooming gadgets 
  17. Fabric care 
  18. OTC and wellness
  19. Ready to cook and eat
  20. Staples 
  21. Stationery 
  22. Fragrances 
  23. Edible oil and ghee
  24. Edible grocery 
  25. Species and recipes 
  26. Pet care 
  27. Household cleaning 
  28. Ice cream and desserts 
  29. Organic products 
  30. Apparel 
  31. Automotive accessories 
  32. Toys and games 
  33. Tobacco and nicotine 
  34. Covid essentials (The most recent development) 

Pakwheels.com

One of the truest forms of successful tech startups that has flourished and dominated an industry; automotive in this case. Since its inception in 2003, PakWheels.com has become the one-stop solution for anything and everything connected with the world of the automotive industry.

With its user-base of 25 million visitors annually and a view count of more than 250 million pages on the website, PakWheels.com has become a prominent name in the global e-commerce, securing USD 3.5 million in its first round of funding and now valued at almost a billion dollars as quoted by online sources

The business model is so extensive so I’ll try my best to cover as much as needed, from providing a comprehensive catalogue of used cars that you can further filter and narrow down through options of price, model, condition, and many more to buy. Pakwheels has also raised the games by moving into opting for a service where the users can let PakWheels sell their car for them, provide a detailed PakWheels Inspection report for any car in any city, and has enabled a Price Calculator feature on its website to help users calculate the market price of cars

We just got started!! 

Pakwheels also provides car comparisons, helping you compare and find their differences, and dedicated a section for comprehensive reviews of all cars in Pakistan as well as learn about the prices of new cars

Another area where it dominates the market is the Auto Parts e-commerce business providing users with the options of finding auto parts, buy Auto parts & accessories directly from PakWheels.

That’s not all!!! When I said, “everything and anything connected to the world of the automotive industry” I meant it.

Pakwheels also enables users to import cars, get a car insurance quote, avail themselves a set of comprehensive car financing options from comparing plans and Applying for car loans. 

Some small but highlight useful features include a Driving License Verification System and real-time updates about the Petrol, Diesel and CNG prices in Pakistan. 

And with this, the tech-led startup has an estimated 80% market share of the automobiles classified ads market. 

In 2014 PakWheels Private Limited was officially incorporated in Singapore. With other startups like Zameen.com and Olx following their example, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that new competitors like CarFirst are also emerging, that provide similar services e.g. inspection and helping connect potential buyers and sellers. 

Will Everyone Try To Become A Super App?

The truth of the matter is that highly specialized apps will eventually start being a rarity. Just like any platform, all the Apps you use want you to stay on them for the most amount of time. That being said, paid Apps (with different revenue models) and niche Apps that don’t necessarily grow based on your attention span will still exist. But the freemium App model will keep growing, every app you use will try to become a Super App, offer as many things as it could for you to be always hooked on it, and to maintain their relevancy in the industry – because if they stop innovating, they stop making money.


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