Fintech Middle East & Africa Weekend read

Are Turkish Super Apps a Threat or an Opportunity?

Smartphones are indispensable in our daily life.  In a stay-at-home year for billions of people, the app habit grew stronger in all markets analysed. According to App Annie’s Q1 2021 Market Index: The global average time spent was 4.2 hours a day, up 30% compared to two years prior. This unprecedented growth means that millions of new users will access transactions ranging from government services to banking transactions using digital tools. Companies are revising their business models, increasing their investments, and pursuing innovations regarding what can be done regarding this predictable development.

Dr. Soner Canko graduated from Istanbul University, Faculty of Political Sciences, Department of Public Administration in 1990. He received his master’s and PhD degrees from the Faculty of Economics of the same university.

In the early years of his career, he held managerial positions in leading international companies such as Procter & Gamble, Citibank, Hewlett-Packard and First Data. After working as Assistant General Manager at Ziraat Bank, he became the general manager of the Interbank Card Center (BKM) in 2011.

Here he shares his thoughts on super apps.

Every day, we browse through dozens of different applications. Sometimes we scroll through the pages for minutes on social media, sometimes we send money from the bank, sometimes we correspond with friends. These services, which we use on our smartphones for very different needs and interactions that may take instant or minutes, have now begun to be offered in a single application. These kinds of applications, which have many functions under their roof, are called SuperApp. The logic of super apps is based on delivering interconnected and sometimes disconnected products and services to end-users through a single app. We observe that mobile application inflation in mobile phones has recently begun to consolidate and the number and use of super apps serving multiple purposes are gradually increasing.

One App Fulfilling All the Needs

We use various applications on our mobile phones, such as those for mobile banking, digital wallets, e-commerce, and public transportation. Super Apps provide integration of several transactions, including payment and ID management, using a single application.  More importantly, Super Apps can customise these services based on our needs.

The advantages offered to users to be preferred more than such applications.

These advantages are:

  • Ability to consume daily used services (public transportation, money transfer, payments, messaging, etc.) through a single interface
  • Instead of the user experience in different applications, over the same interface and in a unique user experience and usage
  • Instant access to all applications on the platform after being onboard only once in a single application, instead of the registration/onboarding process required to access different applications.
  • Single payment experience with super application-defined payment method instead of an application in financial transaction broadcast flow
  • Some tasks such as travel organisation that can be completed with the use of more than one application can be carried out in a single step.

The existence of Super Apps and their increasing popularity emphasises the inevitability of user experience orientation. In this transformation, the value of an organisation will be measured by the value of its ecosystem as well as its financial assets. Organisations that manage to position their ecosystem around user experience will be the shining stars of the future.

Most successful Super Apps

The most well-known application in this area is WeChat, which is installed on all smartphones in China. First introduced to consumers as a messaging application in 2011, WeChat stands out as a comprehensive social sharing, communication, gaming application and payment tool, as well as messaging with more than 1 billion users. In addition to these wide-ranging features, it also offers other social media content such as Facebook, it is literally a super application.

Taking the success story of WeChat as an example, entrepreneurs offer super apps that offer similar experiences one after another. Alipay, Grab, and Gojek are other well-known apps in this category. Today, while the West discusses super apps, East organises its mobile life with a super app. Although Asia is still the most used geography for these apps, it is an undeniable fact that they are the rising trend around the world.

Turkish Players bet for SuperApp

Historically, Turkey very well-known with strong acceptance and adoption for new technologies and payment methods. Finance, telecom and retail industries are in competition to use state of the art technologies when a new technology introduced on the world. Smartphones, mobile internet connectivity, payments with chip-and-pin, contactless payments cards and mobile wallets are major examples introduced early and used heavily in the Turkish Market.

It is possible to say that there is a remarkable dynamism in the Turkish market compering with other benchmarking markets.

It is understood that with the sudden digitalisation experienced in the Covid_19 period, it has found more place in the agenda of all industries. This global change also stands out in Turkey and pioneering players of the major industries have kick-off projects one by one.

SuperApps is a rapidly growing business model that attracts companies and investors in the Turkish market.

Major e-commerce players, banks, food delivery service providers, telecom operator’s agenda to create and present their own SuperApp, based on expectations of their client segments.

Eyes are open to see and learn from every phase of these changes, to see the return of this new trend in the Turkish Market.


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