The latest mutation of the Western SuperApp vision

Isn’t it clear by now that SuperApps born in the `Rest` of the world are successful because they have served holistically a broadly underserved population? I don’t mean to undermine the secret sauce of the mini-programs of WeChat (just one such example). I do want to make it clear though that our Western Revoluts and PayPals, are solving for very different problems.

In the Rest of the world, we have seen SuperApps born from messaging services (e.g. Japan’s LINE) or from mobility (e.g. Grab in Malaysia now SEA) or from food delivery (e.g. Rappi in Colombia now Latam). Facebook & WhatsApp gave it a try with their LIBRA, and DIEM attempt but got shut down before launching. And now our only `hopes` are Fintechs like Revolut and Paypal.

Revolut`s new chat feature for the UK and the EU was announced with a splash recently from CityAM (and other media) saying:

Revolut rolls out chat feature in ‘super app’ push

And soon after, they announced the ability to integrate NFT profile pics into the chat function. Revolut is undoubtedly a top frontrunner by the number of features launched per year. However, the question is whether any of these can actually move Revolut forward to their Western SuperApp vision.

Let’s call it by its name. You and I, only open the Revolut app to transact — payments to someone or to pay online through their browser extension or invest. There is no reason or incentive to communicate via Revolut in the West instead of using WhatsApp, Viber, Messenger, Telegram, Signal, etc..

The only way for Revolut to move the needle forward, toward their Western SuperApp vision, is to enable and empower small-size Digital communities with experiences that are personalized to the common interests of the group. These Small Digital communities should be free (no subscription). People can be part of multiple such communities and Revolut`s algorithm should offer suggestions. Only if Revolut becomes an orchestrator of personalized experiences for these small Digital Communities, will they be able to succeed. These personalized experiences should Not be transactional themes but social themes. For example, traveling, history, books, nature, music, sports, etc.

I believe that the timing is right as Twitter, the scaled open social network is preparing to become a payments business starting naturally from the social angle.

I strongly believe that a large part of the West is ready for Smaller, more intimate Digital communities. The company that will provide the tools to enable this kind of personalization will win. Actually many Tech companies are already trying to do that by adding functionalities to software that will keep us interacting with their core software ecosystem. Take the examples of the video conferencing tools, Zoom and MS teams. They are adding all sorts of tools, so you and I stay within their app and the ecosystem they are building.

In the West, there is a war between those that provide tools to digitize B2B and B2C communications and those that provide tools to digitize B2B and B2C execution. Revolut (and I use them as an example of a Fintech wannabe SuperApp) is obviously a provider at the execution point. But most of our time and attention is spent before the execution and therefore there is a strongly established advantage of social Tech tools (moreso the open ones) versus walled Tech tool providers at the execution point.

Revolut and the likes are actually competing with Zoom and the likes, in terms of becoming a Superapp. Ironically, Zoom just announced that they will launch chat apps (mail and calendar also).

In the Rest of the world SuperApps were born from messaging apps, mobility apps, food delivery apps. And they continue to grow in Africa and Latam in the same fashion.

In the West, we have been living in a world in which:

  • Only the browser is as close as it gets to a SuperApp
  • Now that Elon took over Twitter, the probability that an established social platform may become a SuperApp [1] or the Elon`s X — app is positive (from zero)
  • Post-Covid, video communication software businesses like zoom, will also compete with the SuperApp wannabes and like Twitter they suddenly have a positive probability towards the Western SuperApp vision.
  • Fintechs like Revolut and Paypal, who are adding functionalities towards their SuperApp vision, will never be able to succeed as they lack the social and communication links that connect people and businesses 24/7.

This Sunday, November 13, is the World`s Kindness Day. Last year, I asked 5 Twitter thought leaders to share their thoughts about Kindness. Amongst them was Duena Blomstrom, whose business is focused on `People not Tech` and who walks the talk of getting rid of phycological debt in the workplace. Sadly, Dr. Johannes Drooghaag who suddenly passed this week and who shared his mother’s mantra around Kindness ` Kindness costs nothing and has amazing returns.`

Theodora Lau reminds us that kindness is intentional, especially in the perma-crises mode that we have been living in. Aditya Patro highlights that there is no playbook for kindness but there are unlimited choices for us to be kind.

Why isn’t Revolut reminding me about kindness? I don’t want an automated daily message. I want a personalized message once in a while like a human being would act. I also want to be invited to a chat with others that care on the topic. Why isn’t Revolut integrating into its ecosystem other socially focused apps like the, in addition to insurance and investments?

[1] Elon Musk says Twitter deal acts as accelerant for his planned WeChat rival, the ‘X’ app: Here’s what that means

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Efi Pylarinou

№1 #Finance Global Woman Influencer by Refinitiv 2020 & 2019. Top Global #Fintech Influencer, Futurist, #AI, #Blockchain +: 30yrs FINANCE —