Blog article
See all stories »

Super app, or just another mobile payments app?

When we talk about mobile payment apps, many think of a mobile wallet app – one you can use to pay for goods and services with merchants who accept mobile payments. Mobile wallets can often offer different options within the payment process, such as the choice of different source cards or accounts, using NFC or QR codes to create a quick, easy payments experience online or in-store.

While mobile payments apps are extremely useful and growing in popularity, they are usually reasonably limited in functionality – allowing customers to make payments, but perhaps not much more. Payments super apps, on the other hand, are a very different proposition and they are also very few and far between.

China is the best-known proponent of the super app and they boast the world’s largest payments super apps; Alipay and WeChat. But, of course, both these have been built to serve the Chinese community, rather than having ambitions (or applicability) of a global nature.

So, what has to be in the DNA of a payments super app to make it a success? And what will it take to build the ‘AliPay of the West’?

 1.      It must cater for consumer lifestyles

Consumers are looking for convenience – and apps that make their day-to-day lives easier top the charts when it comes to delivering the convenience factor.

To become an indispensable tool in a consumer’s day-to-day life, an app needs to support a huge range of functionality and join up the array of different organisations that deliver each part of ‘life-driven’ customer journeys. This includes more than just shopping and banking – these journeys need to span broader needs – arranging complex travel/holidays, managing finances, perhaps even booking and paying for childcare. Essentially, a payments super app needs to give consumers the ability to research, purchase and pay for everything they need in a given a situation, all in one place, with whatever payment instrument they prefer.

 2.      It must equally serve the interests of businesses

Merchants, banks, utility companies, service providers, educational organisations… they all have completely different needs and completely different challenges. This means that bringing them together is quite a mission! A payments super app can offer a great opportunity for businesses to play in the mobile commerce world. But, to make it fruitful, the app has to support their business needs – not just offer them a spot, but provide them with a cost-effective means to extend a real brand experience to customers and grow their business.

Delivering this requires real understanding of different sector needs and requirements and how to support their business goals and challenges.

 3.      It must be supported by payments experts

Payments is a complex business. Regulation, compliance, competition, different payment methods, fees, schemes, the processing chain… it’s a convoluted and constantly evolving mesh of different companies, technologies, legalities and geographical factors. To build a truly successful payments super app requires hands-on payments experience. More than that, an app that’s built using the knowledge and experience of long-serving payments experts will be one that’s worked through all the practicalities and challenges that the payments process presents. This will be a far safer and more profitable option for businesses who are looking to onboard with a payments super app.

In a nutshell….

A successful payments super app needs to address both life and business challenges. To gain consumer adoption, super apps need to support entire lifestyle journeys. To pull this off requires creating a seamless ecosystem of businesses, bringing together all the different providers that a customer needs to transact with for each ‘life task’. It’s certainly no mean feat and those businesses will only onboard if the app addresses their needs and offers them value.

This means that when it comes to building a successful payments super app, understanding the needs of merchants, banks and other businesses is just as important as understanding the consumer.

Only those with a strong track record working alongside a broad range of businesses and with a proven knowledge of payments are likely to succeed.


Comments: (0)

Scott Lane

Scott Lane

Business Development Director


Member since

16 Oct 2020



Blog posts


This post is from a series of posts in the group:

The Payments Business

Share opinion and experience on how the payments landscape is changing and learn about the challenges and opportunities facing payments stakeholders in the future.

See all

Now hiring