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Is a super app actually super?

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This week in fintech

November 15 · Issue #122 · View online

A weekly summary of the latest news in our world of finance, design, and technology.


Also this week:
  • 🫣 Is This Crypto’s Lehman Moment?
  • 💰 How does FAANG make money?

🤔 Is a super app actually super?
We’ve previously written about the rise of the super app. Or at least the ambition of super apps based on the popularity of these apps in Asia, where Alipay, WeChat, and Paytm have combined everything from payments to food delivery and travel booking. There have been a lot of actors implying that they are going in this direction this week:
Revolut
Revolut took a large step towards a super app this week by launching a chat service in their app. According to founder and CEO Nik Storonsky at Revolut, the chat function was created as a result of customer demand. The next product in the works seems to be the highly competitive mortgage market.
Twitter
While Revolut is leaning toward communication, Twitter seems to be leaning toward Fintech as we speculated in our last issueAccording to the Verge, Elon Musk brought up the idea of making Twitter a platform for payments in a meeting with the entire staff of Twitter late last week. He said that he sees a “transformative opportunity” in the space:
“Payments really are just the exchange of information,” he said.
“From an information standpoint [there’s] not a huge difference between, say, just sending a direct message and sending a payment. They are basically the same thing.”
– Elon Musk
There may not be a large difference when it comes to zeros and ones when sending a message and sending money, but there is arguably a pretty big difference when it comes to regulatory complexity.
Klarna
Klarna has previously said that they don’t think of themselves as a super app, but their new launch of a price comparison tool says something different. With the solution, they look to diversify its revenue streams from its core buy now, pay later offering, and offer customers a suite of financial products.
Two weeks ago they also launched a new payment offer for physical stores in Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Germany. Users of the Klarna app scan or show a QR code when they are out shopping in town. From the app, they can choose how they want to pay (of course there is a 30-day BNPL solution ++).
One app to rule them all?
No question that becoming the “operating system” for people’s communication, payment and banking services is an attractive place to be for a company. But is this something that users actually want?
The goal of these super apps isn’t necessarily to be a convenient one-stop shop for users but to keep users locked into their service and away from rivals.
In practice, these platforms are often so complex that it’s hard for users actually to figure out how to use them. In my opinion, a super app seems more like a solution in search of a problem rather than the future of apps.
🫣 Is This Crypto’s Lehman Moment?
One of the world’s largest crypto exchanges collapsed last week: FTX and its founder Sam Bankman-Fried long insisted that everything was fine, but a lot suggested that the company and its biggest backer Alameda Research (also controlled by Bankman-Fried) were in deep trouble.
The flood of rumors and leaks caused customers to pull values out of the stock exchange, which led to further pressure and a real liquidity crisis for the company.
Binance, its largest competitor came with a rescue plan to buy up FTX, but the plan was shelved during the due diligence process. Understandable when you see this corporate structure:
According to the website CoinMarketCap, the value of the world’s cryptocurrency has fallen by over 20 percent in the last week. This corresponds to a loss in value of over NOK 2,100 billion, which has evaporated in the wake of the FTX bankruptcy. This is a good case for regulation according to Liv Freihow in Startuplab. People will probably have more attention to security and trust in the years to come.
It’s also a good moment to resurface this article on Crypto’s Failed Promise from May this year:
Crypto's Failed Promise
💰 How does FAANG make money?
If you’re like me you probably find it fascinating how companies earn (and use) their money, but don’t like complex income statements. How they make money is an interesting newsletter I came across with great visuals showing the flow of money in public companies.
That's it for this week 👋
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Marius Hauken, partner Stacc X
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