Business Landscape of Super Apps: Frequently Asked Questions

Business Landscape of Super Apps: Frequently Asked Questions

In short

This article explores the concept of super apps, versatile mobile platforms that consolidate various functionalities, offering seamless experiences. It delves into the current landscape, business opportunities, concerns, and the impact of transitioning to a super app ecosystem. For practical insights, a technical FAQ and a super app showcase are provided.

Super apps from business perspective

Downloading multiple applications to navigate everyday reality, each serving a different purpose, is not exactly every user’s dream. Working on a stiff, monolithic system that leaves little room for team flexibility isn’t a perfect scenario for businesses, either. What if we told you that neither your users nor your organization needs to struggle with these challenges anymore?

You might have heard about super apps, the Swiss army knives of mobile app development that deliver mobile-first experiences and power new digital business opportunities. Already widespread in developing economies, they also have considerable potential to gain traction in other markets – so we wouldn’t be surprised if you were considering making a super app a part of your product portfolio. 

To help you understand all the ins and outs of super app development from the business perspective, we’ve put together an FAQ that tackles the following topics:

  • the super app landscape now and in the near future, 
  • the opportunities and concerns related to super app development, 
  • the impact that transition into a super app ecosystem will have on your business, 
  • and come more technical concerns.

If you’re more interested in the practical aspects of super app development, we’ve got you covered with a technical FAQ and our super-app-showcase.


Super apps are multi-purpose platforms that integrate a wide range of services and features to answer diverse user needs, all within a single mobile interface. Comprised of modular mini apps that users can activate at their convenience, super apps are the software equivalent of Swiss army knives that deliver a powerful mobile-first experience.

Super apps act as a one-stop shop for customers, allowing them to perform everyday tasks like shopping, paying bills, communicating, and more, all in one place. They’re a powerful tool for businesses looking to captivate users with what Mike Lazaridis, Blackberry founder who coined the term in 2010, defined as a “seamless, integrated, contextualized and efficient experience.”

A good example of such an all-round experience is WeChat, a multipurpose app developed in China. Its core features include messaging, localization, a search engine, a news feed, payments, loans, public services, transportation, and housing – and that’s by no means a finished list. It shouldn’t be surprising that the number of active users on WeChat is estimated to reach 1.102 billion by 2025.

Super apps are made to meet the modern-day demand for smooth, convenient, all-encompassing mobile experiences. What makes them stand out, however, is the way they’re built and how they work. 

Ordinary mobile products offer a variety of features within a single application. Super apps, on the other hand, operate as a platform to deliver modular mini apps that users can activate for personalized experiences. The things that account for the super quality in super apps include:

  • range of services – while a mobile application typically serves a single purpose, a super app aims to be the only piece of software a user needs to perform a variety of actions across services or even industries, like Grab, WeChat, or Gojek.
  • all-in-one toolkit – traditional suites of applications released by tech giants like Google or Microsoft require users to switch between products to access different services. Super apps, on the other hand, shorten the customer journey by allowing users to achieve different goals within a single ecosystem without downloading multiple digital products.
  • data sharing – as opposed to ordinary apps that collect data related to a specific purpose only, super apps gather and process much more user data. While this may raise privacy and security concerns, properly-handled data sharing between respective services is a safe way to ensure an even smoother user experience.
  • financial services – there are limitless combinations of services that super apps may offer, from messaging, social networking, and e-commerce to transportation and health. However, as the examples of Gojek’s GoPay or WeChat Pay within WeChat Wallet show, built-in payment is one of the most prevalent. Super app users are usually required to provide their payment information only once for cross-service transactions – and they don’t need to leave the app to finalize the payment.
What’s the global landscape of super apps?
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Ever since the launch of WeChat in 2011, super apps have been on the rise. There has been a notable difference between the emerging and developed economies’ approach to this kind of digital products, though. 

Super apps have taken emerging markets by storm. Among the most notable all-in-one applications released in the last decade are Southeast Asia's leading platforms Grab and MoMo, Latin America-based Rappi, Middle East’s first super app Careem, and WhatsApp, which started turning into a super app in Brazil by launched in-app business directory and shopping features. There are a few reasons why super apps have been booming in developing countries:

  • mobile-first nations – the emerging economies didn’t experience the desktop revolution the same way the developer markets did. Only once smartphones hit the market did they get to easily access the internet, which made many Asian nations mobile-first consumers and contributed to the wide adoption of super apps.
  • unbanked population – a large percentage of unbanked populations was the issue that the emerging economies have struggled with for a long time. To give you an idea, in 2018, over 220 million adults in China, 190 million in India, and 99 million in Pakistan didn’t have a bank account. With financial services often lying at their core, super apps allow users to access their assets and make purchases through mobile devices.
  • regulators’ support – governments in emerging economies have been supporting super apps to drive technological advancement together. For example, WeChat’s been subsidized by the Chinese government since its creation in 2011, while Jakarta entered into a partnership with Grab, Gojek, and other local startups to accelerate the launch of the capital’s smart city project. 

While super apps have been proliferating across emerging markets, they’ve been struggling to gain traction in the West. Among the reasons why are:

  • consumers’ concerns with data security and privacy,
  • rigid data sharing and antitrust laws,
  • cut-throat competition between existing players in most verticals.
What does the super app market look like now, and how will it evolve?
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As of early 2023, 68% of the world’s population uses a mobile phone. Over the past year, the community of mobile users grew by 168 million individuals, and over 92% of all consumers use a mobile device to access the internet. These trends make the future look bright for businesses behind all sorts of mobile applications, including super apps, and translate into some promising numbers:

  • In 2022, the global super apps market size was valued at 61.30 billion U.S. dollars and was expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate of 27.8% until 2030. 
  • Gartner predicts that by 2027, over half of the population will be using multiple super apps daily, and their adoption will take place on both personal and enterprise levels. 
  • The survey conducted by statistics bureaus of the US, UK, Germany, and Australia estimated the number of potential day-one users for super apps is estimated to reach 98 million, which would result in an estimated 3.25 trillion U.S. dollars in annual spending on a super app by early-adoption users.

Super apps are widely adopted in Asia, the Middle East, Latin America, and Africa, but developed economies aren’t exempt from this global tech trend. The key to success in the US and Europe is to understand the distinctive needs and qualities of the Western markets. Having that in mind, Deloitte proposed the following direction for super apps in developed countries:

  • Having an established brand with developed user trust will make the organization’s entry into the super app ecosystem smoother, which seems promising for medium businesses and enterprises.
  • While banking and insurance-related features are indispensable in super apps, social media, ride-share, and payment companies are more likely to succeed in the Western market.
  • Unlike in the emerging economies, in the West, it seems unlikely to have one dominant super app; instead, we’re more likely to witness the rise of vertical-specific super apps, which means more opportunities for business growth.
  • Western super apps won’t aim to oust traditional mobile apps, and their competitive advantage is more likely to rely on giving users the ability to “manage fewer accounts, transact faster through consistent payments, save money using loyalty and rewards, and experience a better product enabled by cross-service insights and advice.”
  • Bearing in mind data privacy concerns, super apps targeted at the developed economies’ consumers will likely be more transparent about data use, and their functioning may require closer collaboration with regulators on the business's side.
  • The US and Europe won’t focus on the B2C market alone; we’re likely to witness there the emergence of more B2B super apps that will drive value “through data-driven insights, automated advice, and seamless integration of businesses’ platforms into a single workspace.”
What are the business benefits of super apps?
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Super apps have dominated emerging markets, and it’s only a matter of time before their popularity grows in the West. If you’re still wondering if your organization should jump on the super app bandwagon, consider the following business benefits:

  • increased customer acquisition – compared to traditional mobile applications, super apps offer a much wider range of services that cater to the needs of diverse audiences, which translates into a bigger potential user base. As your super app grows, it’s also possible to convert the existing users into consumers of a new service at practically zero cost, much like Gojek did.
  • improved user engagement – providing consolidated services in one place and consistently expanding the offering with new features gives you more touchpoints for interaction with users and makes it easier to keep them engaged. In the words of Dara Khosrowshahi, Uber’s CEO, “when we see customers using more than one product, their engagement with the platform more than doubles.” All of that boils down to bigger profits.
  • business stability and sustainable growth – this benefit relates to the ones we’ve already discussed, but it’s worth paying special attention to it due to the current economic landscape. Super apps embrace vertical growth by encouraging a shift from a product to a platform mindset. Offering a range of services may help your business survive when a given vertical suffers from an unexpected breakdown, as was the case with travel during the pandemic. 
  • increased revenue – services within the super app ecosystem can be provided by either you as the app owner or the third-party partners. Opening up your space to various retailers lets you monetize your product easily.
  • faster bug fixing – you can release fixes and improvements Over The Air (OTA), which means no hassle with Google Play or App Store review processes. Thanks to super app configuration, mini apps can download and install updates instantly without rebuilding the whole app.
  • team independence and development efficiency – while developing super apps in separate repositories, the host of the super app provides the necessary tools and infrastructure. The teams can work independently, which results in faster development, fewer code conflicts, and increased ownership in product teams.
  • security despite users’ concerns with data privacy, a super app is a sandbox where developers can play without breaking anything. You can build an environment where you mock some sensitive parts of your codebase. As a result, the environment is more secure, and external providers can move faster and contribute features to your app.
What makes super apps popular with users?
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Super apps collectively have over 2.4 billion active users all over the world. Their enormous popularity in the B2C market can be attributed to:

  • ability to coordinate different aspects of everyday life in one place,
  • convenience and engaging experience without the need to learn how to use multiple apps,
  • time and storage saving resulting from having one user profile and downloading a single app for all services,
  • minimized risk of losing sensitive information when switching between service providers.

These benefits speak to those who haven’t yet had a chance to use a super app. According to a report by PYMNTS and PayPal, seven in ten global consumers express interest in a solution allowing them to manage payments and other everyday activities through a centralized tool. There’s much untapped potential in the developed economies, so why not be among the first to unlock it?

What are the concerns and challenges that come with super apps?
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While super apps offer numerous benefits to both businesses and consumers, they come with some serious challenges as well:

  • data privacy – the multitude of services available within super apps is actually a mixed blessing for many users, especially in the West. Having heard hundreds of stories about data privacy abuse and data breaches from big tech companies, consumers are hesitant to share all their personal data with a single service provider, even if it comes with invaluable benefits.
  • regulatory issues – as a result of data privacy infringements, regulators around the world are implementing laws to further protect personal data and restrict sharing of user data between service providers. Another challenge for businesses behind super apps may be the competition legislations adopted in developed economies.  
  • user experience – in terms of UX, the main challenge for the teams behind the mini apps that make the super app is to strike a balance between consistency and uniqueness. On the one hand, the consistent look and feel account for a positive user experience, drive adoption and retention, and foster a sense of safety. On the other, super apps by definition are made to cater to the diverse needs of heterogeneous audiences, all at once. As each demographic segment interacts with digital products differently, the question remains how to maximize usability without overcomplicating the user experience.
What does moving into the super app ecosystem mean for your organization?
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Digital products are not developed in a vacuum. The way they’re designed and operate depends on many factors, one of which is communication between the development team. 

As stated by Melvin E. Conway, “Any organization that designs a system (defined broadly) will produce a design whose structure is a copy of the organization's communication structure.” In simple words, Conway’s law means that the organizational structure is often mirrored in software design. For example, large corporations still using legacy technologies are much more likely to build stiff monoliths – and so their product reflects the organizational concerns more than the actual user needs.

A tool to tackle this issue is the reverse Conway maneuver, according to which the desired software architecture is what affects the organizational structure, not the other way round. This way, teams are capable of building digital products optimized for changing user requirements and business objectives, just as is the case with super app development.

The super app approach has a profound impact on how you organize the work of your developers. It enables respective teams to independently develop and deploy parts of the host application as mini apps and gives more room for third-party contributions. The way the super app architecture influences team composition and the development process is a great example of the reverse Conway law in practice.

What should you consider when choosing a super app development partner?
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Hiring a tech partner to build your super app can be a real money and time-saver. It takes the burden of internal recruitment from you if you lack in-house expertise in this area and opens up possibilities for upskilling. When looking for a reliable super app development company, we advise looking for the following qualities:

  • experience building super apps – it may sound obvious, but checking if the tech partner’s portfolio includes projects like yours is key. Super apps are a special kind of mobile applications, so the software development company of your choice should know its way around building mini apps and integrating them into whole ecosystems. If you’re wondering about our experience, check out how we improved the performance of MoMo’s super app and mini apps by migrating their architecture to Re.Pack
  • consultancy approach – what sets a good tech partner apart from ordinary outsourced teams is proactivity in matching tech solutions with your needs. You should be looking for a company that’s eager to take a closer look at your current product and situation first, without assessing it as good or bad, but focusing on the potential for improvement. Only once the tech partner understands your pain points and objectives better can they suggest a bespoke mix of technology and solutions. 
  • going beyond development – stepping into the super app ecosystem is not a purely technical choice; it also entails a certain degree of organizational change. That’s why the right tech partner should be able to outline the product roadmap and propose relevant changes to processes, workflows, and peopleware.
  • knowledge-sharing – if your in-house team doesn’t have much experience building super app ecosystems, it might be a good idea to look for a tech partner whose developers will share their specialist knowledge with your squad. This will make the long-term development work more efficient and lay the foundations for sustainable business growth.

At Callstack, we’ve got super app development skills and a business-oriented proactive approach. Get in touch with us, and let’s find out how we can help your business succeed with the next big super app.

What are key tech considerations for super app development?
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The unique experience that super apps offer comes with some special development considerations. Here’s a brief overview of the main factors, which you can read more about in the tech FAQ:

  • tech stack – there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to building a robust and sustainable super app, so you can go for native or cross-platform development, depending on your needs and capabilities. Our experience shows that choosing React Native and Re.Pack means optimal user experience and the ability to leverage code splitting for streamlined development and simplified management of your super app.
  • consistent performance – whether you’re in charge of all services or you’re cooperating with a third-party partner, all functionalities within your super app should have equal operating speed and effectiveness, even on low-end devices and in the low-speed internet environment.
  • user-friendly design – the abundance of features can be overwhelming unless you minimize the friction with a consistent design. To captivate the users, your super app’s design should be visually appealing yet clean and intuitive, especially if you’re planning to win the hearts of Western users, who are accustomed to straightforward navigation and minimalist design.
  • security ensuring user safety should be a priority for every tech business; however, with super apps storing all personal information in one place, their creators should put in even more effort to prevent security breaches. The precautions your development team can take include pen tests, 2FA, code obfuscation, data encryption, and more.
What approach to super app development can you adopt?
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Digital products come in all shapes and sizes, which is why the common answer to many questions in software development is “it depends”. Super app development is no different, as depending on your preferences, you can choose from the following approaches:

  • Native Android application with Feature Delivery
  • Native iOS application with WebViews
  • Cross-platform React Native application with Metro
  • Cross-platform React Native application with Webpack and Re.Pack

At Callstack, though, we recommend going for the latter because it proves to be the most beneficial. Compared to other tools and solutions available on the market, Re.Pack allows you to enjoy:

  • reusable features
  • smaller JS bundle size
  • OTA updates of on-demand features
  • time and cost-effective development experience
  • ability to leverage third-party contributions

If you’re wondering how it works in practice, we encourage you to check out our super-app-template.

What exactly is Callstack’s super-app-template?
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Our super-app-showcase is a repository demonstrating how to structure a super app when working with Re.Pack and Module Federation to achieve the best business results. It highlights various solutions and best practices developers can employ to tackle challenges and streamline the super app development process. 

The super-app-showcase comprises:

  • the host app, which is the main container for the micro-frontends
  • the shell app, which functions like a blueprint of the host app with shared dependencies
  • a few mini apps, each dedicated to a single service booking, shopping, dashboard, and news – the latter being stored in a separate repository. 

You can learn more about the architecture and the intricacies of the template from the case study published on our blog.

How does super app development with Callstack’s super-app-template influence your team’s work and developer experience?
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By definition, a super app is built as a platform “to deliver a mini apps ecosystem that users can choose from to activate for consistent and personalized app experiences.” This modular approach allows a large development team to split into smaller squads, each focused on a respective mini app, and enables third-party contributions to be seamlessly integrated into the final product. 

When implemented right, such a workflow may lead to greater flexibility, independence, and development speed. Among the steps to optimize developer experience in the super app setup, there are:

  • creating and exposing a sandbox environment that closely resembles your host app, like the shell app in our super-app-template,
  • if need be, creating an SDK that contains common and repeatedly used elements,
  • organizing the codebase into a monorepo, which is an optional step.

Using Re.Pack and our super-app-template to build your super app makes the application of these tips in developers’ work much easier.

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