The battleground for being India’s top super-app is set, the players in full form with funds from international giants pouring into the indigenous startups.
Super-apps have undoubtedly become one of the biggest influences on mobile-service startups worldwide. These super-apps are multipurpose apps that have finely integrated multiple functions like chat options, payment and financial services, online shopping and much more.
The progress and profits of the Chinese giants like WeChat and Alipay as have not gone unnoticed by the rest of the world
Apart from China, other nations are also leaving no stone unturned in developing these super-apps. Recently in Japan, Yahoo Japan’s parent Z Corp. merged with LINE, the most popular chat app in Japan, Taiwan and Thailand to develop super-app models for both brands.
In the Southeast Asia region, startups like Grab and Gojek are making their full attempts to develop themselves into super-apps by adding payment services, food delivery and more to their core ride-hailing functions.
In India, the country’s most valuable startup, Paytm valued at $16 billion as of November 2019 has had an intent to be as a super-app. The app which is backed by both Alibaba Group and Softbank Group has added grocery shopping, banking and financial services, health care and food delivery services to its mobile payment app over the past few years.
However, posing the greatest challenge to Paytm as a super-app is the new Facebook’s deal with Jio. On April 21, Facebook announced a $5.7 billion investment in Jio, India’s youngest but biggest mobile operator.
A combination of the world’s biggest social network and India’s biggest mobile network is sure to overtake some of the other giants in many spheres.
The comments of both the Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg and billionaire Mukesh Ambani, chairman of Reliance Industries, the parent company of Jio Platforms suggested that the goal lies somewhere near India’s most popular app, Whatsapp which has about 400 million users.
It had only been less than a week after the announcement when the masses were thrilled to note that Jio’s grocery shopping service, JioMart, opened a business account on WhatsApp. As easy as it sounds, consumers are simply connected to JioMart through automated text messaging on WhatsApp.
Having been rolled out in only a few urban districts, it aims to find out if the concept of multipurpose apps or super-apps can target millions of Indians on the popular chat application.
Jio has previously been known to release a plethora of apps, in its short three-and-a-half-year history that includes video and music streaming, chat, payment services and health care.
The danger of Whatsapp’s link to Jio’s multitude of services hovers over Paytm. With shopping as well as payment services, the app will act like a super-app, leaving Paytm in a perilous position.
With about 350 million registered consuming users and 200 million monthly active users, Paytm is accepted at roughly 15 million merchants. It had gained enormous popularity after India’s demonetisation, now the impact is such that roadside vendors with a QR code posted at the shopfront also accept Paytm wallet money.
On the other hand, the JioMart endeavours to link as many as 30 million small-scale retailers to local Jio subscribers with free delivery as a consequence of which Paytm might be adversely affected.
The damage would not single-handedly carried by Paytm, as other apps like, the online grocery startups like Big Basket and Grofers, as well as Dunzo, which provides “errand” service for residents in many cities will also be dented.
In the current dire times of the pandemic, online platforms like Amazon and Flipkart which are rampantly strengthening their grocery services, as groceries and medical items are the only things that the government allows to be delivered, will be challenged to their core.