The integration of banking applications and wallets into multipurpose platforms with countless possibilities isn’t slowing down

Superapps continue to gain ground and promise to revolutionize digital banking and financial mobile applications with offerings that combine everything on the same platform—from loans to food deliveries to social networks and streaming.

This concept first came to light in Asia, where market leaders such as China’s WeChat allow some 1.288 billion active users each month to send messages, shop online, make payments and read the news. In Latin America, Rappi has branched into financial services through its wallet and Mexico’s Baz offers home delivery and streaming in addition to payments, loans and credit cards with the backing of Banco Azteca.

Meanwhile, in the United States and Europe, the diversification of established platforms has been more timid. WhatsApp has tried to test payment solutions, while the list of financial super apps also includes BNPL-pioneer Affirm and challenger banking app Revolut.

In countries with low levels of financial inclusion and widespread access to mobile Internet, the evolution of apps can be an important tool for distributing banking products on a massive scale.

And markets where a clear leader has yet to emerge present a golden opportunity for banks to take the lead, using application program interfaces (APIs) to amalgamate an ecosystem of first-party and third-party offerings into a single application.

BENEFITS OF THE SUPERAPPS

According to a report by the consulting firm KPMG, customers prefer the convenience of having all the services they need in one place. It is a matter of lightening the user journey.

PayPal CEO Dan Schulman put it simply during an interview: “There are too many apps on our phones—I can’t have an app for my pharmacy, my grocery, for all the different retailers I have. I can’t have 40 to 50 different apps on my phone. I can’t remember the passwords, I don’t want to enter in all my info every time. There are really only eight to 10 apps that we use every single day or every single week. Those apps are going to morph into what we call super apps.”

Making life easier for the user is definitely the most outstanding benefit of these platforms. But it is not the only one.

They strengthen financial security as it is no longer necessary to enter bank details into a series of different platforms. Just a single registration, password and biometric authentication is required, which reduces the risk of cyber fraud and losses for the companies and their customers.

Superapps also simplify customer acquisition. They have become one of the preferred channels  that unbanked users use to open digital accounts, attracted by simple and efficient onboarding processes, in addition to their broad product offering.

What is more, they provide a lift to local economies, since small businesses that do not yet have access to bank terminals can start receiving payments and transfers without too much difficulty. Retailers can easily open an account to deposit their earnings. And their transactional data can be used in future to apply for loans.

BUSINESS POTENTIAL FOR BANKING

The financial industry is moving towards the construction of complete and centralized ecosystems, where products can begin to be transformed in terms of ease and immediacy.

The strategy for institutions should be based on trying to unify the entire banking universe (accounts, savings, payments, loans) using superapps in order to reach the customer with a relevant offering.

This will also translate into additional dividends for the business. Multipurpose apps provide access to an unprecedented amount of customer information, not only about their transactional preferences but also about their consumption trends. This data is essential to shaping banking risk and predictive models and for opening the door to other services, such as investments and loans, at the precise moment the user requires them.

Traditional banks, with their data in silos and on-premise servers, struggle to get a good view of their customers.

These striking platforms, which have already shown their potential in other regions, promise a more comprehensive understanding of the consumer, who will be satisfied and happy with your institution by solving their daily needs in fewer clicks.

Andy Tran