Voice of the Industry

Super apps and social commerce – a new global way of doing business

Wednesday 6 December 2023 11:24 CET | Editor: Irina Ionescu | Voice of the industry

Ryan McQueen, Management Director of Payments and Open Data Practice at Accenture, offers insights into super apps and social commerce as a global way to do business.

Evolving payment habits – super apps and social commerce

In the aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis, the tempo of change in consumer behaviours and expectations has hastened. Geopolitical shifts, accelerating digitisation and significant economic turbulence are reshaping how people pay and move their money. At the same time, the friction-free experiences offered by social and ecommerce platforms are setting new benchmarks for consumer payments.

Accenture’s 2022 global consumer payments survey of 16,000 customers in 13 countries spanning Asia, Europe, Latin America and North America found that more than half of all consumers have adopted digital payment methods such as digital wallets, many of which displace banks’ brands from the customer experience. Traditional payment methods still dominate most markets, but next-gen alternatives are rapidly gaining share.

As consumers seek simpler, faster ecommerce experiences, and the ability to pay anywhere, anytime, anyhow, we have seen merchants and marketplaces leverage headless commerce technologies to enable end-to-end and omnichannel shopping experiences on online, mobile, and social media channels. Meanwhile, we have seen super apps emerge from traditional financial services players and next-gen payment providers.

What is headless commerce?

Headless commerce is a term used to describe the way the front-end (head) of ecommerce can be decoupled from back-end processing. This is accomplished by leveraging technologies such as APIs to implement solutions, including payment solutions, that are not directly coupled to legacy back-end systems and can, therefore, be developed independently of these systems. Common use cases of headless commerce include:
  • Omnichannel payment experiences, where consumers can, for example, start a purchase online and complete the process seamlessly in-store;

  • Non-traditional partner models, where consumers can purchase products directly from the website of a merchant’s partner while remaining on the original merchant’s website to continue their core ecommerce journey.

Technologies that improve checkout experiences directly address the issue of how much consumers spend with a merchant. Cumbersome checkout experiences contribute to high levels of online shopping cart abandonment. According to research by Baymard Institute, approximately 70% of online shopping carts are abandoned, directly impacting sales revenues.

What is a super app?

A super app is a mobile or web application that can provide multiple services, including payment and financial transaction processing. It is a self-contained commerce and communication platform that embraces many aspects of personal and commercial life, including activities like travel, entertainment, traffic updates, personal services from providers such as doctors, and more.

Today, there are only a handful of true super apps – such as Line in Japan – most of them in Asia-Pacific, but our research suggests that the time for super apps may finally be at hand in other markets, too.

Two examples of large super apps in the Asian market are India’s Paytm and PhonePe, offering not only payments options and financial products (insurance, equity trading) but also train tickets and cinema bookings. Paytm already has 300 million users in India and aims to deliver financial inclusion to 500 million consumers, in a country where 13% of the adult population is unbanked.

Our research found that there is a growing segment of consumers ready to embrace apps that offer full visibility of payments, together with disparate financial products like savings, cashback, rewards, investments, and wealth management.

While one common desire for payment options is for them to be simple, fast, convenient, secure, and easy to understand, not all consumers seek the same journey. Our research also found that 56% of users want the convenience of a single app for all payments, and 60% want a single app which tracks payments from multiple payment providers, giving them greater transparency and control.

Others are interested in apps that combine financial and lifestyle options in one place. From the consumer’s perspective, the ease of transacting is the most important feature in a super app, followed by control and convenience. Many consumers value having transparency of their purchases and the ability to consolidate shopping and reward programmes in a single app. There will be nuances in the drivers for super app adoption between different customer segments and markets, as shown in the below table.

Features that would encourage consumers to adopt super apps

Our survey showed that banks are well positioned to capitalise on consumer trust to offer super apps. Among respondents, 43% said they trust that their bank’s app is secure and would happily use it for as many everyday life activities as possible.

An example of a bank-owned super-app is Avo from Nedbank in South Africa, an app that aggregates goods and services from a variety of providers. The app started out as a platform to buy groceries, order a meal, or access services like plumbing. It has since expanded into offerings such as Avo Auto – an end-to-end virtual vehicle mall. Avo has grown to 1.5 million users and 21,000 merchants since it was launched in 2020.

Meanwhile, we are seeing players as disparate as PayPal, Revolut, and even X (formerly Twitter) move towards becoming super apps. With customer behaviour evolving at a rapid pace and new competitors appearing as quickly to meet any emerging needs that banks are unable to address, it remains to be seen whether banks will keep pace with consumer needs sufficiently to ultimately win the super app race.


This editorial piece was first published in the Payment Methods Report 2023, which provides an in-depth overview of the latest worldwide developments in how people pay, the payment methods space, the innovative technologies that these methods work upon, and the best strategies on how to win at conversion and retention.


About Ryan McQueen

Ryan is Managing Director of Accenture’s Payments and Open Data Practice for Australia, New Zealand, and key Asian markets, leading a local team of payment advisors and technology specialists whose strategy, consulting, and execution capabilities put Accenture’s clients at the leading edge of the payments industry.



About Accenture

Accenture is a leading global professional services company that helps the world’s leading businesses, governments and other organisations build their digital core, optimise their operations, accelerate revenue growth and enhance citizen services – creating tangible value at speed and scale. We are a talent and innovation led company with 732,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries.

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Keywords: ecommerce, omnichannel, ecommerce platform, payments , social commerce, super app, equity, insurance, unbanked, digital wallet, digital payments, digitalisation, PSP, direct to consumer, platform, online platform
Categories: Payments & Commerce
Companies: Accenture
Countries: World
This article is part of category

Payments & Commerce


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