Voice of the Industry

Understanding super apps: what are they, and why should you care?

Wednesday 28 September 2022 10:15 CET | Editor: Claudia Pincovski | Voice of the industry

With financial services being an increasingly common super app feature, it’s important that banks and financial institutions understand the role of the super app in the digital financial space.

While apps might be nothing new, an integral part of daily life for most of us, a new class of app is on the horizon – the super app. A growing trend that originated in Asia, super apps are fast becoming something to watch out for in the banking and financial services sector.

Here, we are going to cover what makes an app ‘super’.

What’s with the hype with super apps?

So, what exactly are super apps, and why is their popularity growing at such a high rate? Think of how and why people use apps. It’s all about convenience. They can pick up their phones or other devices and, with a few swipes or clicks, access a quick and easy way to shop, learn, work, entertain, and more.

But users often have to bounce between different apps for different functions and services. Not with super apps – they offer users a variety of services all within a single digital interface. Initial adoption was extensive in Asia, and the use of super apps is now on the rise in western countries.

What defines a super app?

BlackBerry founder Mike Lazaridis first coined the term ‘super app’, during a speech at Mobile World Congress in 2010. He described ‘a closed ecosystem of many apps that people would use every day because of the seamless, integrated, contextualized, and efficient experience’, specifically to do with BlackBerry devices.

A decade later, today’s super apps aren’t limited to any one device and run independently in order to reach the widest audience possible. And rather than being designed for one specific use case, like regular apps, super apps incorporate multiple different use cases, often thanks to third-party partnerships that allow integration of various offerings within one single ecosystem. In a recent report, super apps are defined as an asset that captures more of the user’s time with their comprehensive offering, and each additional action performed by the user within the Super App ecosystem can generate incremental value.

Top five super app characteristics

As stated, super apps contain multiple functions and services built around things valuable to users in their everyday lives. The following five features are the most common:

Social feature

Engagement and usage are driven by social use cases that allow to broaden the audience due to network economies. Social features such as messaging, activity feeds, and personalised promotions build a community around the super app.

Embedded finance

Embedding financial services allow to design journeys with a consistent user experience without leaving the app. Users need to be able to carry out financial transactions within a super app. This goes from peer-to-peer transfers, ecommerce payments, and can even cover paying utility bills and insurance premiums.


A marketplace connects buyers and sellers, allowing them to interact and transact in a simple consistent environment. Users should be able to use the app for every step of the purchase process, from browsing products to contacting the seller and completing digital payments.

Ride hailing

A more specific kind of marketplace that connects private drivers and passengers to provide a sort of taxi service.


Riders are available through the app to deliver not just food or groceries, but also medicines and other products.

What does the rise of super apps mean for banks and the finance industry?

Financial institutions should, without doubt, be interested in super apps and their impact on banking and financial services. One of the features many super apps have embedded in them as an addition to their core services is financial services.

The main advantage of embedded finance within a super app is that users don’t have to leave the app to complete financial transactions, which benefits both the user and the app. For traditional banks, however, this means a greater distance between them and their customers.

Of course, banks could accept the rise of the super apps and stay competitive by improving and promoting their own app and product suite, but this does not guarantee success as there’s a possibility that banks’ share of transactions may shrink as people find more of their financial needs accommodated elsewhere.

On the other hand, some banks have already become a part of the super app ecosystem by providing unbranded Banking-as-a-Service to the apps. This means that banks have background position, and the customer is a step removed from the bank.

However, super apps can benefit the banks, helping them improve their data management and analytics capabilities, and share it across various service areas and lines of business to develop a better view of the target audience.

So, what’s the answer? Financial institutions don’t have to see super apps as a threat, instead, they can look at them as an opportunity to grow and develop new revenue streams. They can also seize the opportunity to launch super app ecosystems directly targeting customer segments or sectors they might serve.

About Oleg Patsiansky

Oleg leads BPC’s digital banking practice where he works on designing what the future digital banks could be.Oleg leads BPC’s digital banking practice where he works on designing what the future digital banks could be. He is passionate about digitalisation and building solutions that help people eventually live in better societies. Oleg brings a wealth of experience in banking and payments having worked with BPC Banking Technologies for over 20 years. He has been part of the BPC journey and instrumental in the growth into a dynamic company that has now 350 clients in over 100 countries. He has been heavily involved in the transition from switching solutions, fraud management, and merchant management to emerging channels such as internet and mobile. He has deployed solutions across the industry verticals of banking and finance, telecoms, government, and transportation.

About BPC

Founded in 1996, BPC delivers solutions which fit with today’s consumer lifestyle when banking, shopping, or moving in both urban and rural areas, bridging real life and the digital world.Founded in 1996, BPC delivers solutions which fit with today’s consumer lifestyle when banking, shopping, or moving in both urban and rural areas, bridging real life and the digital world. With 350 customers across 100 countries, BPC collaborates with all ecosystem players ranging from tier one banks to neobanks, Payment Service Providers (PSPs) to large processors, ecommerce giants to startup merchants, and government bodies to local hail riding companies.

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Keywords: super app, financial services, financial institutions, partnership, report, embedded finance, transactions , P2P, ecommerce, digital payments
Categories: Payments & Commerce
Companies: BPC
Countries: World
This article is part of category

Payments & Commerce


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