Rise of the super app: tech firms join battle

By Vien Thong   August 21, 2019 | 07:43 pm PT
Rise of the super app: tech firms join battle
Ride-hailing, food delivery and payment are among the major features of a super app. Photo by VnExpress/Dat Nguyen.
Tech firms are racing to include more and more services in a single app as they seek to diversify revenue sources and keep users.

Go-Viet said in a recent statement it plans to "become a super-app in Vietnam, following the success of affiliate Go-Jek in Indonesia, a market with economic, social and demographic conditions similar to Vietnam."

A super app is a breed of smartphone app that offers multiple functions like payment, ride-hailing, food delivery, ticketing and entertainment.

"We will continue to perfect and innovate to meet the daily needs of Vietnamese people," Go-Viet CEO Le Diep Kieu Trang said at the company’s anniversary event on Sunday.

Go-Viet offers motorbike haling, goods delivery and food delivery with 125,000 partner drivers. It has completed 100 million trips.

Ride-hailing company Be earlier this month launched delivery services after over eight months of operations. Though it does not call itself a super app yet, it offers a number of services including transportation, delivery and finance, and is also eyeing food delivery.

"Ever since our establishment, Be has sought to bring solutions to simplify complications in daily life and connect customers with service providers," CEO Tran Thanh Hai said. It has completed 20 million trips and partners with 40,000 drivers.

E-wallet Momo has also joined the race. Starting out as a financial solutions provider, it now offers entertainment such as a game show, which awards players money for answering questions.

Its DeputyChairman, Nguyen Manh Tuong, said the app is no longer in just finance but also technology and entertainment.

Grab, which initiated the super app race, is making moves to retain its dominant position. It offers users the option to subscribe to its services, which means they can prepay for rides and deliveries as other players have also jumped into the fray, offering similar services at competitive prices.

Industry insiders said since ride-hailing services often take time to break even, diversification of services helps tech firms increase their revenues.

"While it's hard for ride-hailing to make big profits, it generates high-frequency transactions," Prof Nitin Pangarkar of the National University of Singapore Business School said.

"The food delivery business has good prospects for profitability, and the combination of both creates a very good ground for payment services."

Super apps offer companies huge prospects for growth but in the short term require a lot of investment, he added.

Vietnam’s ride-hailing and food delivery market is forecast to reach $2 billion by 2025, according to a report released last year by Google and Singapore sovereign fund Temasek.

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