Western apps make a new push to become super apps

Super apps in Asia, such as WeChat, Alipay, and mobile messaging app Line, have dominated ecommerce and online services in the region for years. Now, some Western apps are trying to build their own super apps by creating marketplaces next to their core financial, social, or delivery services. Most of these apps use a combination of monetization methods, including commissions and ad serving.

Several financial apps have been explicit about their efforts to become super apps. Companies PayPal, Affirm, and Klarna have all introduced commerce features into their payments and financial services offerings. A broader range of companies seek to become go-to places for a full range of financial services.

Major delivery apps are also expanding beyond their core services. Uber already has grocery and ticket marketplaces and is expanding into health-related services. Instacart has added storefronts for brands and has marketplaces for goods as varied as alcohol and home goods, with its ad network generating $795.0 million in 2022. DoorDash similarly has moved beyond food delivery.

Social media apps might be the most advanced in building super app strategies. TikTok generated $840 million in tips for its creators in Q1 2022, according to Sydow. Although creators kept the full amount, this huge haul points to the potential for adding IAPs or commerce features on social media. Social commerce, in fact, is growing rapidly—although the main goals for these companies are likely higher engagement, creator retention, and better data for ad targeting, as much as affiliate fees or commissions.