Newsletter #81 - Asia’s super apps

Super apps' next stop: Hyper-verticals

Super apps—where social media, marketplaces and online messaging co-exist—are becoming the gateways to the consumers. When businesses jump on a super app platform, their services quickly spread across entire regions.The super app boom began in China. As the super app sector grows rapidly (currently worth US$ 4bn and expected to be $US23 bn by 2025), how are the rest of Asia’s super apps looking to connect consumers with more services?


🎈 Should Southeast Asian super apps follow the same route as their Chinese peers? [KrAsia]

What is it? - Super apps in APAC (namely Grab and Gojek) started from completely different bases from their Chinese counterparts, but their end goal is the same: get more users by adding more services.

So what? - But for Asian super apps to reign over new markets, success boils down to creating native payment systems. With more than 290 million people in SE Asia unbanked, super apps need to establish financial ecosystems, which will make creating other verticals and partnerships with service providers easier and faster.

“Chinese internet companies think of building entire ecosystems, versus product-first or product-centric companies,” says Rui Ma, co-host of the podcast Techbuzz. “They're not just building a feature or one service. They're thinking about how to take the user's entire lifestyle and move it online.”

What’s next? - Emulating “China’s everything app” will be too expensive. Using a “hyper-vertical” model might be better to serve Asia's specific needs. Instead of tackling many sectors in one app, hyper-vertical models cover the entire customer journey around a singular product or vertical. Carro, for example, was at first a used-car marketplace but evolved to provide other services from car repairs to same-day insurance.

“The hyper-vertical model is a way for Southeast Asia’s tech companies to carve out market leadership by drilling down on what they are good at, rather than firing shots in the dark to see what eventually sticks,” says Yinglan Tan, managing partner at Insignia Ventures Partners.

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