What Is a Superapp, and Does Your Business Need One?

What Is a Superapp, and Does Your Business Need One?

Portrait of Jess Cheung Lark's Author
Portrait of Jess Cheung Lark's Author

Jess Cheung

January 22, 2024

1/22/24

Jan 22, 2024

1/22/24

8 min read

Mobile phone with superapps
Mobile phone with superapps
Mobile phone with superapps
Mobile phone with superapps

Imagine managing every aspect of your personal and professional life with one tool. You could take over the world with that kind of power at your fingertips.

Good news: such a tool exists. It’s called a superapp. So, if you want it, the world is yours.

Maybe not total world domination. But you can take control of your world.

Superapps are the definition of digital convenience, seamlessly integrating a multitude of essential functions into a single, user-friendly platform.

But how did they arise? What are the pros and cons of using them? And should you invest in one for your business?

In this article, we answer all the questions above and more, shedding light on the impact of superapps on our modern lives and how they transform business operations.

What is a superapp?

The term “superapp” has become synonymous with convenience and versatility. And this makes sense since a superapp is a multipurpose application designed to incorporate a variety of essential functions into a single platform.

Instead of cluttering your device with multiple standalone apps for messaging, shopping, banking, and more, one superapp can do everything.

What are miniapps?

Inside the superapp ecosystem are miniapps — small, individual apps that focus on one particular task. Each miniapp has its own function, whether that’s ordering food, powering group chats, or displaying the latest news. Miniapps enhance the user experience by providing specialized solutions within the broader superapp framework.

How did superapps develop?

Superapps first came to rise in Asian markets, with WeChat and Grab leading the way. They were developed in response to this region’s demand for integrated digital experiences. These apps offer seamless user experiences by catering to diverse needs within one platform.

In contrast, regions like North America favor best-of-breed apps — apps that excel in a specific function. This preference can be traced back to the historical development of the internet ecosystem, which prioritized specialized services over integrated platforms.


A comparison of superapps and best-of-breed apps


However, things are shifting. People in the Americas and Europe are starting to show more interest in integrated platforms, and innovators are looking at ways to create a winning app that appeals to the Western market.

The emergence of ChatGPT as the entry point for all generative applications hints at the potential for it to become a superapp in the future. Additionally, Elon Musk has plans to turn X, formerly Twitter, into a superapp. But more on this later.

Why are superapps popular?

Superapps are becoming incredibly popular due to their practicality. They combine multiple services into one easy-to-use platform, which removes the complexity of tracking dozens of logins and solves the dilemma of digital clutter. The right superapp could attract 98 million users on its first day, generating over 3.25 billion US dollars in annual spending.

This class of apps significantly impacts both personal and professional lives in several ways:

Convenience

Perhaps the most attractive quality of a superapp is its convenience. With 90% of consumers willing to integrate a superapp into their lives for convenience, it’s clear that the one-stop-shop design resonates deeply.

Users are drawn to the idea of a single, cohesive platform that blends diverse services. The user-centric design prioritizes ease of use and accessibility, simplifying the digital experience.

Market adoption

The superapp phenomenon is now a global movement, with 1 in 3 people in the world currently being superapp users. These apps’ viral appeal and constant feature improvement are driving their fast adoption.

This increasingly widespread user acceptance is changing the way we interact with technology every day.


Superapp users around the world


Integrated financial services

One-third of consumers are ready to switch payment channels for quicker transactions. Superapps meet this demand by offering more payment options and faster processing.

In some countries, like China, superapps such as WeChat Pay and AliPay have begun to replace traditional payment methods, like cash or card. In fact, 53% of Chinese consumers use Alipay daily, highlighting the deep integration of these services into everyday life.

What are the benefits and drawbacks of superapps?

Superapps are reshaping the digital world. However, like every technological innovation, they do have drawbacks.

Here are some of the pros and cons of these tools:

Pros

  • One-stop solution for multiple needs

  • Integrated user experience

  • Streamlined business operations

  • Minimized context switching and SaaS sprawl in business environments

  • Enhanced customer engagement

  • Reduced need for multiple subscriptions and accounts (leading to potential cost savings)

Cons

  • Some markets have not yet adopted them

  • Products must comply with various data privacy regulations across markets

  • Over-reliance on a single platform

  • Challenges in quality control for all functions

  • Limited customization for users

  • Consolidation may increase cybersecurity risks

What are some examples of superapps?

Here are some prominent examples of superapps, along with descriptions to help you understand their significance in different global settings:

Line

Line was initially a messaging app but has since developed into a platform that offers online payment solutions, news, e-commerce, and entertainment features. In Japan, Line plays an important role in connecting people by integrating daily services into one comprehensive platform.

Kakao

Kakao also started as a messaging app and has since become a superapp that offers payment, transportation, and entertainment services. It’s a key player in South Korea, with many South Koreans viewing it as an indispensable part of their daily life.

Grab

In Southeast Asia, Grab is a leading app that has significantly evolved from its origins as a ride-hailing service. Locals and tourists alike rely on it for food delivery services, payments, and more. Its development helped revolutionize transportation and digital payments in the region.

Revolut

Revolut, originally a fintech app, comes with services such as cryptocurrency exchange, stock trading, insurance, budgeting, and analytics. It’s transformed digital banking and payments in Europe. By accommodating different languages, currencies, and financial regulations, Revolut makes financial transactions more accessible and efficient for European users.

Paypal

Known globally for its digital payment system, PayPal is in the midst of expanding its services to include shopping and financial management. This expansion reflects a growing trend in financial technology, where companies are integrating personal finance tools and e-commerce features to offer a more comprehensive digital wallet experience.

Rappi

In Latin America, Rappi has diversified into a versatile platform offering delivery, a digital wallet, travel booking, event ticketing, and personal assistance services. Its role in urban logistics and digital payments is significantly impacting daily commerce and lifestyle as the region shifts toward more integrated and convenient urban living.

X

X is poised to develop into a superapp — or, as Musk calls it, an “everything app.” Musk plans to expand X into the video, professional networking, Facetime, dating app, and even banking realms.

While this is still in the works, it signals a trend among established Western digital platforms to diversify by offering more all-encompassing services.

WeChat

Since its humble beginnings as a simple messaging app, WeChat has evolved into a multifunctional platform in China. It’s expanded to include mobile payment services, shopping, social media, and more. It’s so pervasive that it’s become a part of Chinese daily life.

AliPay

While Alipay started as a payment platform, it has since branched out to offer lifestyle services like travel booking, utility bill payments, and even medical appointment bookings. Its widespread acceptance has revolutionized convenience in transactions and allowed users to seamlessly manage different aspects of their lives.

Lark: the superapp for work that fits your business needs

Lark is the go-to superapp you need to run your business, as it adapts to trends in the modern workforce. Here’s what it can do for you:

Optimize business management workflows

Lark transforms project management by integrating comprehensive tools for transaction tracking, HR process management, and group communication into one platform.


Screenshot of a sample interface in Base


Creating automated workflows becomes effortless with Lark Base, Lark’s intuitive, no-code database. With it, you can build detailed dashboards and view data in diverse formats, essentially running projects from start to finish.

In addition, Lark Base provides AI autofill. Here, you can connect Lark Base with OpenAI and use the latter to process the information added to each line. For instance, you can provide suggestions based on a task update, or break down a task step-by-step.


GIF showing AI autofill in Lark


Moreover, Lark offers an end-to-end view of your project lifecycle for complete and efficient project oversight.

With these core features, management of complex, high-value projects becomes a breeze.

Streamline other business operations

Lark not only transforms project management but also streamlines business operations, including meeting management. It offers advanced features, such as in-call doc sharing and AI transcription, both of which are designed to maximize engagement and productivity both during and after meetings.


Lark's meeting management function


Additionally, Lark makes it easier to manage multiple aspects of your business from one place, including SaaS applications and other operational tools. This feature enables a more integrated and efficient approach to handling business operations.


Image showing multiple aspects of a business in the Lark superapp


To further improve efficiency in your business, check out Lark’s best practices.

Leverage advanced features for global collaboration

Lark makes global collaboration more successful by breaking down language and time zone barriers. For instance, its multilingual support effectively removes communication barriers in real-time by translating over 100 source languages into 18 display languages during video calls and group messaging.


Image showing Lark's language options for the group chat function


Lark also supports scalability. It ensures a smooth transition to changes by helping you effectively navigate the challenges of adapting to new platforms, global staff training, and integrating diverse technologies.

Not only that, but Lark provides unhindered global access, adhering to local security and compliance requirements across different regions. This is especially valuable for multinational teams, as it guarantees consistent connectivity and collaboration across different locations.

Achieve cost-efficiency by consolidating business tools

Instead of juggling multiple applications like Slack and Asana for your business, Lark centralizes all essential functions into one platform while offering significant cost savings.

Lark eliminates the need for multiple overlapping software subscriptions, cutting down on unnecessary expenses. Its single subscription model not only simplifies budgeting but also reduces administrative overhead, making it easier to manage resources.

This unified approach also minimizes the time and resources needed to train employees to use different platforms, further enhancing the app’s cost-effectiveness.

Supercharge your business with Lark today

Lark is everything your business needs in one superapp. Experience the difference for yourself. Try Lark for free today.

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