You’ve probably heard of great apps like WeChat and Alipay. These “superhero apps” combine the functionality of multiple apps into one convenient package, saving users the hassle of switching between platforms.
But all of the great apps on the list above originated and continue to thrive in the East. For years, consumers have asked when the trend will hit the West and which Western company will be the first to launch a super app. Walmart and Uber seem to be vying for the title, so let’s find out which of them could get super app status first.
Learn more about great apps
Before we continue, let’s clear up a common misconception: multifunctionality isn’t the only requirement to become a great app. If so, Facebook would be a great app as the social media giant has transitioned from a messaging platform to retail marketplaces.
Instead, the real benchmark of a super app is integration with mini-apps, usually from third-party developers, and for third-party services. We discuss the criteria for being a super app in more detail in our in-depth article on what super apps are and how they work.
Since Alipay is a great example of a super app, you can also check out what the app is about to get more background on super apps.
Walmart’s Super App Plans
Walmart’s super app ambitions unfold like the moves of a chess player. The company first made a series of strategic buyouts in alliance with its dream of becoming a financial services super app.
Walmart fintech startup Hazel Fintech (majority-owned by Walmart and backed by Ribbit Capital) has bought Even, an early-stage payroll startup that already has Walmart as a client. It also bought One Finance, a neobank. The three companies will relaunch a new entity dubbed ONE, a name that is probably a nod to its future multifunctionality.
Walmart hasn’t been exactly explicit about its plans for the fintech unit. All we got was corporate language: A Walmart press release said the entity would provide “modern, innovative and affordable financial solutions.”
But it really isn’t hard to imagine Walmart’s inevitable end game.
For years, Walmart has partnered with Green Dot, American Express, MoneyGram, PayPal and other financial service providers to provide prepaid debit cards, domestic and international money transfers, bill payment services , tax preparation, installment financing and other financial services.
Walmart’s telehealth arm, Walmart Health, also acquired MeMD, a multi-specialty telehealth provider. The goal is to provide access to virtual healthcare in addition to Walmart’s physical healthcare clinics.
The company also has a Connect tool that allows advertisers to reach Walmart shoppers online, in-app and in-store. Let’s not forget Walmart’s partnership with online shopping platform Shopify, allowing Shopify sellers to sell on Walmart Marketplace.
Walmart obviously has a huge super app opportunity if it integrates these services under one platform. The company also has the strengths and the ambition to get there. The question now is, when?
Uber Super App Packages
Uber announced its super app ambitions long before Walmart. The company first expressed its ambitions in 2018, but the pandemic slowed its plans.
Now Uber is offering new travel booking options for customers in the UK as part of its drive to become a super international travel app. UK users will now have the ability to book flights, train tickets, hotel rooms and car rentals. If it does well in the UK, Uber plans to expand public services to other countries.
Like Walmart, the company also has an all-inclusive platform in the form of Uber One, a new membership program that allows users to get deals on Uber rides, freight and food deliveries. . Before Uber One, Uber offered these services from different apps.
Rather than making acquisitions, Uber forms strategic alliances with service providers that complement its own products. For example, the company announced a partnership with French micro-mobility company CityScoot in October 2019. Through this alliance, users can order scooters directly from the Uber app.
In 2021, Uber also partnered with car rental company Hertz to offer 50,000 Tesla vehicles as rental options to its ride-hailing drivers by 2023.
Uber’s super app strategy is bolstered by the company’s portfolio, Uber Money, which offers financial services to its drivers.
Even in the travel and mobility sector, Uber has the potential to integrate all of its services into one great app offering. And the company’s collaborative approach might just be the propeller it needs.
Walmart vs. Uber: Who will launch the West’s first super app?
So, to the meat of the question. As you’d expect, it’s impossible to predict whether Walmart or Uber will achieve super app status first.
Each company takes a different approach to diversification – Walmart through consolidated acquisitions and Uber through collaboration. Neither approach is necessarily superior to the other; what matters is how the two companies complete the integration of all these services.