What are super apps and how will they impact financial services?
copy gray iconlinkedin graytwitter grey

What are super apps and how will they impact financial services?

July 29, 2022

“Super apps are applications that once you start using you’ll wonder just how you lived without them,” said BlackBerry founder Mike Lazaridis in 2010. Twelve years later, super apps like China’s WeChat and Alipay feature ecosystems of different services that span instant messaging, entertainment, banking, ecommerce, and many others.

While single-use mobile applications focus on solving one consumer need at a time, super apps are a one-stop shop for millions of users, creating high levels of engagement. The more users engage, the more data this creates for app developers to further improve their services.

The wealth of consumer data has a major influence on financial services, especially when it comes to offering consumers the right financial product at the right time. Super apps have a much better picture of their customers and their needs than the average bank or fintech.

Here’s what you should know about the rise of super apps and where they’re taking the financial industry.

How do super apps work?

Super apps work by combining different services under the umbrella of a single app, from ride hailing to bill payments.

Companies that develop super apps create these services from scratch, or they integrate with third-party solution providers. “Often, [super apps] will start with a single product, whether it’s messaging or ride hailing. And then they tack on services,” explains Arjun Kharpal, CNBC's senior technology correspondent.

Thanks to the variety of services they offer, super apps have access to plenty of user data that can power new services.

The vast majority of the world’s most popular super apps are used in Asia, while the U.S. and Europe still prefer to keep different services in separate apps. The reasons? High levels of regulation (the European Union is especially strict on Big Tech) and more competition between tech companies. “One thing you see in Europe and in the U.S. is the fact that competition is fierce among the tech giants. Apple has got iMessage, and Facebook has got WhatsApp and Messenger. (...) No one player necessarily always dominates a certain part in order to create this super app experience,” says Kharpal.

Still, some tech companies in the West are beginning to experiment with the super app model. PayPal’s new “super app” offers a variety of tools like shopping, saving, payments, and a crypto wallet. Walmart is also building a “financial services super app.” Then, there are fintechs such as Revolut that are rebundling financial products, leading some experts to also describe their efforts as “building super apps”. Although these solutions still don’t span as many services as the super apps in Asia, it’s a sign we could be moving in this direction.

Pros and cons of super apps

Whether you’re a financial service provider or a food delivery app, becoming a super app offers advantages such as:

  • Becoming your customers’ one-stop shop for everything from a payment service to social networking.
  • High levels of user engagement lead to a better understanding of your users, allowing you to create more tailored experiences.
  • Capture more users from single-use apps

However, with more services added to the app, the potential for cyberattacks grows. Any app that hosts such vast amounts of user data will need to invest heavily in cybersecurity. If a data breach occurs, users could lose sensitive information regarding their bank accounts, shopping habits, etc.

Super apps will also need to keep up with the ever-changing data regulations. Even though the U.S. doesn’t have any super apps per se, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has already reached out to tech giants like Google to understand how they use consumer transaction data. Data privacy regulations are constantly evolving all over the world, and super apps will need to be prepared to adapt to these changes.

Examples of super apps

From payments to food delivery, here is what the world’s biggest super apps have to offer.

WeChat

With 951 million monthly active users, WeChat is the biggest super app in China. When the company Tencent launched in 2011, it was a messaging app that allowed users to text and share images. Then the company expanded the app with other functionality like digital payments, which consumers can use to send money and pay for goods and services.

Alipay

Alipay is another super app that originated in China. It was originally created by tech company Alibaba as a payment system for its online shopping platform. Today, its 599 million monthly active users rely on the app to book everything from airplane to movie tickets, manage their money, order a taxi, and more.

Grab

In 2012, Grab initially launched as a ride-hailing service in Malaysia. Ten years later, it has expanded into food delivery and banking, including lending and insurance. Grab is now available in eight countries in Southeast Asia.

Careem

In the Middle East, the ride-hailing app Careem has also made the transition into super app territory. It was founded in 2012 in Dubai, and since then, it has expanded to 15 countries. In addition to ride hailing, Careem offers food delivery and a digital payment platform. Users can also rely on the app to rent a car, book a Covid-19 test, and schedule a home cleaning service.

The potential of super apps in financial services

According to Accenture, super apps could cause considerable change in financial services — especially for traditional banks. Because super apps with integrated financial products offer a smooth user experience, many consumers could switch to a super app to manage their money instead of using their banking app.

This presents an opportunity for banks to set up partnerships with super app providers and embed their products into these ecosystems. Accenture also points out that the “boldest banks” will launch super apps of their own, and this path will require clear vision and excellent data management. Additionally, they would need to look into APIs that can simplify data transfer between different parties.

Some traditional banks are already on this path. Belgium’s second-largest bank, KBC bank, allows its customers to use PayPal, buy movie tickets, and watch soccer matches in their mobile app. It has also opened access to some of the app’s services to non-customers. This way, the bank can expand its consumer base and convert more users into customers.

How financial service providers can prepare for the super app ecosystem

Only time will tell whether the WeChat or Grab model of super apps will take off worldwide. But financial service providers don’t need to wait for a super app to develop innovative products tailored for their audience. Banks and fintechs can already use APIs to access more consumer-permissioned data from payroll and income platforms to develop products their user base needs.

With a payroll data connectivity API like Pinwheel’s, financial service providers can get instant access to verified income and employment data from 1,600 payroll and income platforms. With this data, they can improve their underwriting models, power paycheck linked lending, launch earned wage access, or develop entirely new products.

If you’re ready to discuss how Pinwheel’s API can enhance your product, get in touch with us today.

Always stay up to date

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
View our Privacy Policy   ➔

Up next

How alternative credit data can benefit lenders

How alternative credit data can benefit lenders

Read more  ➔
Tech Spotlight: Implementing your first feature flag

Tech Spotlight: Implementing your first feature flag

Read more  ➔
Pinwheel Welcomes New Advisor, Ethan Yeh, to Advance Pinwheel’s Data Science Strategy

Pinwheel Welcomes New Advisor, Ethan Yeh, to Advance Pinwheel’s Data Science Strategy

Read more  ➔
Tech spotlight: Securing access control across internal services

Tech spotlight: Securing access control across internal services

Read more  ➔
The anatomy and potential of payroll data: Transforming complex data into insights

The anatomy and potential of payroll data: Transforming complex data into insights

Read more  ➔
Beyond the credit score: Propelling consumer finance into the future with income data

Beyond the credit score: Propelling consumer finance into the future with income data

Read more  ➔
Ayokunle (Ayo) Omojola joins Pinwheel’s Board of Directors

Ayokunle (Ayo) Omojola joins Pinwheel’s Board of Directors

Read more  ➔
Conquering conversion: Engineering practices developed to help customers

Conquering conversion: Engineering practices developed to help customers

Read more  ➔
Driving Customer Delight: From implementation and beyond

Driving Customer Delight: From implementation and beyond

Read more  ➔
Pinwheel Supports Open Finance Data Security Standard

Pinwheel Supports Open Finance Data Security Standard

Read more  ➔
How we design Pinwheel to solve real customer problems

How we design Pinwheel to solve real customer problems

Read more  ➔
What is consumer-permissioned data and what are its benefits?

What is consumer-permissioned data and what are its benefits?

Read more  ➔
How payroll data connectivity can help financial service providers in tumultuous market conditions

How payroll data connectivity can help financial service providers in tumultuous market conditions

Read more  ➔
Pinwheel now supports document uploads to supplement payroll data

Pinwheel now supports document uploads to supplement payroll data

Read more  ➔
Brian Karimi-Pashaki joins Pinwheel as Partnerships Lead

Brian Karimi-Pashaki joins Pinwheel as Partnerships Lead

Read more  ➔
Optimizing for conversion with smarter employer mappings

Optimizing for conversion with smarter employer mappings

Read more  ➔
What are super apps and how will they impact financial services?

What are super apps and how will they impact financial services?

Read more  ➔
Increase conversions and maximize share of wallet with Pinwheel's new UX update

Increase conversions and maximize share of wallet with Pinwheel's new UX update

Read more  ➔
Pinwheel announces support for taxes

Pinwheel announces support for taxes

Read more  ➔
Ryan Nier Joins Pinwheel as the Company’s first General Counsel

Ryan Nier Joins Pinwheel as the Company’s first General Counsel

Read more  ➔
The future of enabling earned wage access

The future of enabling earned wage access

Read more  ➔
Deliver earned wage access faster with Pinwheel Earnings Stream

Deliver earned wage access faster with Pinwheel Earnings Stream

Pinwheel Earnings Stream provides the necessary data and intelligence to reliably offer earned wage access (EWA) at scale.

Read more  ➔
Digital transformation in banking in 2022: What it means, trends & examples

Digital transformation in banking in 2022: What it means, trends & examples

Read more  ➔
June product release: Expanded connectivity to employers, a custom experience with Link API and more

June product release: Expanded connectivity to employers, a custom experience with Link API and more

Read more  ➔
Pinwheelie Spotlight: LaRena Iocco, Software Engineer

Pinwheelie Spotlight: LaRena Iocco, Software Engineer

Read more  ➔
Build fully custom experiences with Pinwheel’s Link API

Build fully custom experiences with Pinwheel’s Link API

Read more  ➔
Pinwheel expands connectivity to 1.5M employers

Pinwheel expands connectivity to 1.5M employers

Read more  ➔
Robert Reynolds joins Pinwheel as Head of Product

Robert Reynolds joins Pinwheel as Head of Product

Read more  ➔
Pinwheel obtains highest security certification in the industry

Pinwheel obtains highest security certification in the industry

Read more  ➔
Lauren Crossett becomes Pinwheel’s first Chief Revenue Officer

Lauren Crossett becomes Pinwheel’s first Chief Revenue Officer

Read more  ➔
Everything you should know about the role of APIs in banking

Everything you should know about the role of APIs in banking

Read more  ➔
Open finance: What is it and how does it impact financial services?

Open finance: What is it and how does it impact financial services?

Read more  ➔
How automated direct deposit switching benefits traditional banks

How automated direct deposit switching benefits traditional banks

Read more  ➔
Pinwheel Secure: Authentication optimized for market-leading conversion

Pinwheel Secure: Authentication optimized for market-leading conversion

Read more  ➔
Pinwheelie Spotlight: Elena Churilova, Software Engineer, Integrations

Pinwheelie Spotlight: Elena Churilova, Software Engineer, Integrations

Read more  ➔
May product release: Localization and downloadable pay stubs

May product release: Localization and downloadable pay stubs

Read more  ➔
How a payroll API can level up lenders and renters

How a payroll API can level up lenders and renters

Read more  ➔
The power of payroll APIs in consumer finance

The power of payroll APIs in consumer finance

Read more  ➔
Data Talks: Pinwheel’s Fortune 1000 coverage and top employer trends

Data Talks: Pinwheel’s Fortune 1000 coverage and top employer trends

Read more  ➔
April product release: Enabling connectivity to time and attendance data for 25M US workers

April product release: Enabling connectivity to time and attendance data for 25M US workers

Read more  ➔
Tech spotlight: Increasing engineering momentum at a systems level

Tech spotlight: Increasing engineering momentum at a systems level

Read more  ➔
How crypto exchanges can turn direct deposits into a fiat onramp

How crypto exchanges can turn direct deposits into a fiat onramp

Read more  ➔
March product release: Time and attendance coverage and Pinwheel's new online home

March product release: Time and attendance coverage and Pinwheel's new online home

Read more  ➔
Pinwheelie spotlight: Arianna Gelwicks, Tech Recruiting

Pinwheelie spotlight: Arianna Gelwicks, Tech Recruiting

Read more  ➔
What is payroll data and how it benefits proptech companies

What is payroll data and how it benefits proptech companies

Read more  ➔
Earned wage access: What is it and why does it matter?

Earned wage access: What is it and why does it matter?

Read more  ➔
How fintech APIs are transforming financial services

How fintech APIs are transforming financial services

Read more  ➔
Webinar: Unleash growth with income and payroll APIs

Webinar: Unleash growth with income and payroll APIs

Read more  ➔
February product release: Updated Link UX and data quality

February product release: Updated Link UX and data quality

Read more  ➔
Why a direct deposit switching API is a must-have for banks and neobanks

Why a direct deposit switching API is a must-have for banks and neobanks

Read more  ➔
Tech spotlight: Floating footer with React functional components

Tech spotlight: Floating footer with React functional components

Read more  ➔
Pinwheelie spotlight: Hale Ahangi, People Operations Lead

Pinwheelie spotlight: Hale Ahangi, People Operations Lead

Read more  ➔
Shift from a vicious to virtuous cycle: The foundation for a fairer financial system

Shift from a vicious to virtuous cycle: The foundation for a fairer financial system

Read more  ➔
January product release: Recurring access to income & employment

January product release: Recurring access to income & employment

Read more  ➔
Pinwheel’s Series B and our path towards a fairer financial future

Pinwheel’s Series B and our path towards a fairer financial future

We're excited to share that we have raised a $50M Series B funding round led by GGV Capital with participation from many others.

Read more  ➔
Pinwheelie spotlight: Devin DeCaro-Brown, Product Manager

Pinwheelie spotlight: Devin DeCaro-Brown, Product Manager

Read more  ➔
Tech spotlight: How to implement async requests in your Python code

Tech spotlight: How to implement async requests in your Python code

Read more  ➔
2021 recap and product update: An amazing year for Pinwheel

2021 recap and product update: An amazing year for Pinwheel

Read more  ➔
Charles Tsang joins Pinwheel as Head of Marketing

Charles Tsang joins Pinwheel as Head of Marketing

Read more  ➔
Pinwheelie spotlight: Octavio Roscioli, Senior Software Engineer

Pinwheelie spotlight: Octavio Roscioli, Senior Software Engineer

Read more  ➔
November product release: Beta launch of income & employment monitoring

November product release: Beta launch of income & employment monitoring

Read more  ➔
How can payroll data help with one’s financial picture?

How can payroll data help with one’s financial picture?

Read more  ➔
Pinwheelie spotlight: Caroline Lo, Software Engineer

Pinwheelie spotlight: Caroline Lo, Software Engineer

Read more  ➔
2021 company onsite: Bringing Pinwheelies together

2021 company onsite: Bringing Pinwheelies together

Read more  ➔
October product release: Beta launch of direct deposit allocation monitoring

October product release: Beta launch of direct deposit allocation monitoring

Read more  ➔
Why payroll data access is inevitable on your product roadmap

Why payroll data access is inevitable on your product roadmap

Read more  ➔
Security spotlight: SOC 2 compliance

Security spotlight: SOC 2 compliance

Read more  ➔
Jeff Hudesman joins Pinwheel as Chief Information Security Officer

Jeff Hudesman joins Pinwheel as Chief Information Security Officer

Read more  ➔
Welcoming John Whitfield, VP of Engineering

Welcoming John Whitfield, VP of Engineering

Read more  ➔
Announcing Pinwheel’s FCRA Compliance

Announcing Pinwheel’s FCRA Compliance

Read more  ➔
Pinwheel's statement on Section 1033

Pinwheel's statement on Section 1033

Read more  ➔
Pinwheel raises $20M Series A

Pinwheel raises $20M Series A

Read more  ➔
If I were a fintech founder

If I were a fintech founder

Read more  ➔
Pinwheelie spotlight: Phil Jen, Director of Product

Pinwheelie spotlight: Phil Jen, Director of Product

Read more  ➔
Celebrating women's history month with Sasha Pilch

Celebrating women's history month with Sasha Pilch

Read more  ➔
Tech spotlight: How we re-launched our API docs

Tech spotlight: How we re-launched our API docs

Read more  ➔
Why I chose Pinwheel: Payroll APIs as the next frontier

Why I chose Pinwheel: Payroll APIs as the next frontier

Read more  ➔
Lunch and learn with Nik Milanović

Lunch and learn with Nik Milanović

Read more  ➔
Pinwheelie spotlight: David Daudelin, Senior Front End Engineer

Pinwheelie spotlight: David Daudelin, Senior Front End Engineer

Read more  ➔
The missing link

The missing link

Read more  ➔
Introducing Pinwheel, the API for payroll

Introducing Pinwheel, the API for payroll

Read more  ➔