Imagine, dear reader, holding your cellphone that you want to call a taxi, order a meal, pay a bill, and chat with your friends, how many applications will you need? The logical answer is to do all these activities, so you must open each application separately.
This is why there is a new upward technical trend, especially in the Asian and South American market, that takes it upon itself to develop an application to do all these activities through only one application that contains all the above applications called “Super App”, what are the super apps and what Is it important and how widespread is it? More importantly, what is its impact on user privacy?
What are super apps?
We can liken the super app simply as smart home but in your mobile phone. It allows you to do a lot of daily functions such as chatting with friends, reading and sharing news, ordering food, scheduling meetings, taking notes, calling a taxi… etc, all through one application on your phone.
Although super apps have not yet spread globally and we haven’t heard much about it yet, its spread in Asia, especially China, has become noticeable through apps like WeChat, Alipay, Grab, Go-Jek, Paytm, Kakao, and Line that It has become an essential part of life in many places, and most of these apps have started to integrate many of the above functions into their apps and have turned into something like mini OSs.
To understand how these super apps work, take a look at your smartphone how many apps do you have on your screen? I bet you need to switch from one to another to get what you need, in China where these applications are spread you do not need to navigate the application map on the screen of your phone you can open an application like WeChat and make all your transactions and interact with the influencers and play games, all without leaving Application.
Spread horizontally, not vertically
Over the past twenty years, the Silicon Valley model of applications has been a “one-purpose” application. As the name implies, these applications are designed to perform only one function through a clear and easy to use interface, and therefore these applications are designed to be globally scalable using a structure that helps them to expand globally without changing much.
However, over the past five years, a new trend has emerged, namely the emergence of super apps in China specifically where consumers embrace applications capable of providing a service with a clear and intuitive interface and then other services / functions are added to these applications that users are accustomed to, and this Other merchants are encouraged to want to partner with the app and offer their services through it too.
Thus, super apps create an ecosystem where the user time is monopolized, and this model has experienced significant growth in emerging markets such as India, South America, and Southeast Asia, while the US / Silicon Valley model is growing vertically and thoughtfully, but the focus of super apps companies This is to expand strongly horizontally and control specific geography.
Here we find that the superior application model may make sense because it is an easy way to access many different services, and provides space on the phone not to install a lot of applications, and it is also a way to free users from the trouble of searching for a lot of different applications.
Everything has a price:
Without a doubt, when looking at the super apps in real life, we find that the Weenc application of the Chinese company Tencent is an application used by more than two thirds of the Chinese population, and many of them on average for several hours a day. The most prominent applications that follow the principle of all-in-one, and the competing application has Alipay is also follows the same principle of all-in-one and is frequently used to pay via mobile phones so that payment for things with cash or credit card is rare in China.
Functions such as: electronic payments, tickets, games, financial services and food delivery are an example of things you can do with WeChat and / or Alipay apps. You can even create games and applications within WeChat and take advantage of the app’s existing infrastructure for things like messaging and payments.
However, we find that some of the biggest flaws in super apps are of great concern as the huge range that apps like WeChat and Alipay can effectively suppress competition is because anyone who wants to provide a new service to users usually does so through one of these apps.
Privacy is also a major concern, as the more things that users can do in one application, the more the application can learn more about them, and therefore it can pose a major threat to its users and enter the collective monitoring circle and violate their privacy.
The main challenge for such applications is the security of personal data, as super apps require massive storage of digital data. If compromised, the user’s entire privacy and generalities are at risk, and information such as transaction history, favorite sites, contacts, and most sensitive information will be fully in the hands of the hackers.
Even without hacking, premium apps are the best marketing solution to target you with ads. Where analyzing data from one application provides an accurate display of user data, purchases that were requested, dates of payment and quantity, and a lot of personal financial information that can be used directly to target you with targeted advertising.