The power of super apps: their potential for the financial industry

The emerging era of so-called super apps in the financial sector promises to be revolutionary, and Asia is paving the way. But interest and trust are also high in Europe, according to a recent study. In private banking in particular, these all-in-one apps could bridge the gap between personalized financial services and exclusive support – provided that they comply with data protection directives.

After an innovation trip to Asia and an in-depth analysis of local conditions in Germany, we are convinced that super apps could shape the future of banking.

What are super apps?

Super apps are innovative digital platforms that go far beyond traditional applications by integrating a variety of services into a single application. These all-rounders offer not only banking and payment services, but also insurance, e-commerce, social media and personal activities. The origins of this concept lie largely in Asian super apps such as WeChat, which paved the way for this trend with their versatility.

Essentially, super apps provide a centralized location for users’ daily needs, thus no longer requiring them to download multiple applications. With clean design and high usability, they are revolutionizing the way people shape and make use of their digital experiences.

Interest and trust in Europe: a potential for super apps

The rapid evolution of the financial sector has ushered in an era of super apps that combine banking, payments, insurance, e-commerce, social media and personal activities into one application. While leading Asian super apps such as WeChat and Grab have played a key role in shaping this trend, Europe still lacks a comparable offering. A recent study now confirms our assessment that there is interest in super apps in Europe.

The study, conducted by industry service provider with more than 9,000 participants from Austria, Germany, the UK and the USA, reveals that there is considerable interest in super apps in Europe. 72 percent of respondents are “somewhat” interested, while 25 percent are “extremely” interested. Respondents’ trust in banks even exceeds their trust in big tech companies like Apple, or government institutions. These results reflect the growing trend toward digitalization, as users look for simple solutions to replace complex applications. Super apps impress with their clean design and usability.

Opportunities for banks through super apps

Super apps open up a wide range of opportunities for banks to strengthen their position in the digital financial market and tap into new business areas:

  • Service diversification: banks can diversify their service offerings by combining financial services with e-commerce, insurance and other services.
  • Increased customer loyalty: with personalized offers and services in one central application, banks can strengthen customer loyalty and deliver a comprehensive financial experience.
  • Improved efficiency: super apps enable more efficient use of first-party data, which leads to targeted cross-selling and up-selling opportunities and increases efficiency.
  • Innovation leadership: banks can position themselves as innovation leaders by leveraging technologies that seamlessly integrate with their customers’ daily lives.
  • Competitive edge: by introducing a super app, banks can set themselves apart from their competitors and strengthen their market position in the dynamic financial sector.

Super apps are the dominant factor

Super apps can start small and grow to dominate, as has already happened in Asia. Market research firm Gartner predicts that by 2027, more than 50 percent of the world’s population will use multiple super apps every day to manage workflows, collaboration, and messaging platforms.

The market potential for super apps is therefore huge, and industry experts such as Scott Galloway predict that building a super app will soon create the world’s first 10 trillion-dollar company. Examples such as Revolut in Europe show that super apps can also gain a foothold here and in the financial sector. More than 25 million people are already using Revolut.

Strategic and technical framework: focus on banking-as-a-platform

The development of super apps goes hand in hand with the emergence of banking-as-a-platform in the financial sector. Regulatory adjustments such as PSD2, open interfaces, and the procurement of technical banking functions “as-a-service” are driving this development. For example, the number of open banking provider registrations in Europe has increased by 320 percent since 2019.

Banks are granting licensed providers secure access to their customers’ bank accounts, enabling them already today to offer value-added services such as personal financial planning assistance or recommendations for additional suitable financial products. Accordingly, banks are already taking this issue into account in their strategic and technological decisions.

Conclusion: shaping the future of banking

Current developments clearly indicate that super apps have the potential to shape the future of banking. European banks should follow Asia’s lead and capitalize on the existing trust. The barriers to entry appear to be surmountable and the opportunities are great: super apps can not only drive digital transformation “inwards”, but also give banks a leading position in the ever-evolving competitive landscape.

The blurred lines between traditional banking transactions and services for everyday life mean that institutions can develop new offerings and increase customer loyalty – so long as they get started right now.

What is your view on the role of super apps in the financial sector?

Feel free to contact us!

Alesia Prytulchyk / author BankingHub

Alesia Prytulchyk

Senior Manager Office Zurich
René Lange / author BankingHub

René Lange

Head of Operations Office Berlin

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