Voice of the Industry

Smart wallet vs super app – the evolution of retailer apps

Friday 24 March 2023 12:12 CET | Editor: Raluca Ochiana | Voice of the industry

Sandra Mianda, Founder of Paypr.work, talks about the differences between smart wallets and super apps, while also tackling tech evolution in the retail space.


Shoppers are multi-dimensional. Their relationship with retailers has increasingly become a mix of digital and physical aspects. Today, quality and great service are an expectation, unique experiences are the point of differentiation.

Digital experiences in retail have seen rapid growth in the last few years. Boosted by the lockdown restrictions put in place around the world, retailers’ apps in particular saw a significant increase in time consumers spent browsing and paying for services and products digitally. As a result, retailers have had to shift and enhance their in-app strategy by expanding their services, tapping into AI and into the versatility and accessibility of the digital channels to drive innovative offering.

The opportunity to engage with consumers at different stages of their journey has become such a fundamental component of retailers strategy – and has proven to increase sales and customer loyalty. At the core of their design, apps should enable retailers to track a lot of crucial data, which are pivotal to interact with customers and create personalised shopping experiences. By aggregating these data, an app can be a great accelerator for developing an omnichannel strategy.

Interestingly, retailers are having a bigger impact on shoppers’ payments behaviours too through the way their content and offers connect with shoppers. Retailers recognise the need to be able to offer shoppers their preferred methods of payments, but equally a growing number of them are also launching or actively considering their own payment apps or wallets. Starbucks (US) and Tesco (UK) are prime examples of the seamless blend of an app, wallet, and payments infrastructure across the entire customer shopping experience.

A retailer wallet has the advantage to be able to integrate incentives that encourage adoption, which is a key differentiator comparing to pure payment wallets like Apple Pay or Google Pay (although they are catching on). As an example, Walmart (US) has integrated incentives with its mobile wallet, helping shoppers ensure they are getting the best price and crediting their accounts if another store advertises something at a lower price. This goes a long way to boost new acquisition and build some loyalty tie-in.

There is also growing competition in the super app space as shoppers increasingly opt to use multi-purpose apps instead of the mobile wallet. Although similar in concept, the lines are getting more and more blurry. There are, however, some distinctions that exist in terms of their overall function and scope.

A super app is a multi-purpose app that enables users to manage, transact, and invest in diverse avenues through a secure virtual infrastructure – whilst mobile wallets are a digitised version of a physical wallet installed on a smartphone. Mobile wallets store predominantly financial instruments although they are evolving to become smarter and store other items, such as rewards cards (points/miles), loyalty cards, health insurance cards, hotel key cards, airline boarding passes, and bus or train tickets. Under the European Digital Identity Wallet initiative, there is a plan for a common framework, whereby countries will be able to offer digital wallets to citizens and businesses. These wallets will link national digital identities with other documents, such as driving licences, diplomas, and bank accounts.

Naturally, with such aggregation of features, smart wallets are becoming extremely valuable when it comes to security, engagement, and retention.

We are living in an era that will be defined by mass adoption of new technologies, and retail apps will reap the benefit if deployed smartly. There is a continued interest in mobile shopping. When preparing for the future, retailers need to focus on an omnichannel approach to provide one experience for the customer. Everything needs to be connected, with the consumer at the centre and with a first-class user interface and user experience design.

Some of the most innovative and game-changing trends in retail apps include the incorporation of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), mobile chatbots, and the metaverse. Indeed, blockchain could bring new opportunities to further enhance loyalty and digital wallet payment programmes by providing a more seamless and secure transaction process that can be accessed in real time.

Technology brings about constant change, and it continues to drive the industry [r]evolution.

In this year’s edition of the Merchant Payments Ecosystem conference (MPE 2023), payment technology and retail experts from Mastercard, Wayfair, Digiseq, Barclaycard, and Nexi (to name a few) will share further insights into some of the evolving trends from super apps to smart wallets, whilst touching on the technology behind these infrastructures and the rise of payment methods such as QR codes.

This year’s conference is bound to make the headlines! Don’t miss the opportunity to grow your business and career and join over 1,300 industry peers and 160 speakers on 28-30 March in Berlin! Countdown had started. Register now: Merchant Payments Ecosystem.


About Sandra Mianda

Sandra Mianda is the Founder of Paypr.work, an independent payments consultancy that supports merchants, fintechs, or banks in designing payments strategies that enhance their products propositions to unlock new opportunities. With clients’ interests first in mind, Paypr.work brings distinctive core payments expertise through a modular service offering adapted to clients’ bespoke requirements. Our business model revolves around three pillars: consultancy and strategy, education and training, and content creation and visuals design.


About MPE

The MPE 2023 conference (28-30 March, Berlin, Germany) is the destination for industry innovation, bringing together 1,300+ people and companies and redefining the Merchant Payments Ecosystem. Uniquely focused on merchant payments, the 16th annual MPE connects 350+ big merchants with 1,000+ acquirers, PSPs, and POS SW & HW vendors, established companies, as well as startups from 40+ countries. MPE is well regarded for its senior-level networking and agenda covering all aspects of payments acceptance.

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Keywords: super wallet, super app, retail, digitalisation, merchants, payment methods
Categories: Payments & Commerce
Companies: Merchant Payments Ecosystem
Countries: World
This article is part of category

Payments & Commerce

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