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The MEA region is paving its digital journey with superapps on the horizon. Telcos have shown great interest in this business model, in addition to fintech organizations and banking institutions.

Leveraging mobile experiences to meet user needs in a world increasingly powered by 5G, superapps present a great opportunity, particularly in a region expected to be the home of more than 3 billion people by 2050. The Middle East is at the forefront of investing in emerging technologies and fintech, while Africa is home to a digitally-savvy population set on innovation.

USP: Simple and Convenient Digital Platforms

From messaging a friend and sending money to booking a ride or an appointment, digital transactions are made easier when done in one single app. Highly beneficial for both businesses and end users, the reality enabled by superapps is ideal in a melting pot of cultures, languages and ambitions.

The MEA region’s growing digital-native generation can benefit from superapps’ mobile-centric experience. They can be powerful tools to streamline and customize the user experience while potentially saving time and money for enterprises.

Essentially designed for simplicity and convenience, superapps are digital platforms that serve as a single portal to a wide range of virtual products and services for consumers. After noting a preference for fragmentation and unbundling of services in their lives, rebundling is taking its turn in the spotlight. Instead of having multiple apps, the diverse demographics in MEA are particularly suitable for specialized apps that attract large customer traffic and frequent customer visits.

More superapps are yet to surface in the region, but social media, telecom and food delivery apps are already checking boxes on these parameters. Technology giants and companies, such as banks and telecom providers, are certainly moving into the superapp space and maximizing their big data and powerful analytics capabilities, which increases the chances of creating valuable add-on products.

From a merchant or user perspective, any tool that is easy-to-understand and easy-to-use will be in demand, especially in this time of economic uncertainty and increased digital demand.

Telcos Invest in Superapps

Some of the ways that superapps create more value include growth, customer engagement, client expansion through partnerships, user retention and higher investment streams. Thus, telcos are continuing to explore the superapp model, playing between B2C and B2B customers to maximize the potential of revenues and profitability.

Most successful superapp business models follow a three-branched approach: gaining customer insights, identifying relevant revenue opportunities and launching new service segments. With this in mind, telcos have the right assets to launch a superapp: a subscriber base, customer data and a strong balance sheet.

Some examples of telecom-backed superapps in the MEA region are etisalat by e&’s GoChat Messenger, MTN’s Ayoba, Safaricom’s M-PESA and Vodacom’s VodaPay. These combine messaging, financial, beauty, entertainment and health services, among others. With a number of active users and partnerships on board, this form of telecom investment could materialize in a productive and lucrative manner in the coming years.

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