Whether WeChat, GoTo or Grab: We are talking about so-called super apps that already exist in some countries and regions. These apps offer extensive functions such as messaging, paying and ordering in one application. There are no such apps in Germany. But why?

A super app is an application that integrates a variety of services on a single platform. Examples include WeChat in China, Grab in Southeast Asia, or Gojek or GoTo in Indonesia. These apps offer features such as messaging, payments, transportation bookings, food ordering, and more.

In Germany and Europe, such an app has not yet become established, especially not from a German or European provider. Here, special apps are regularly used for certain functions, which then only cover this one function.

I'll even go a step further and say that such a super app from a German or European provider will not be launched in Germany in the foreseeable future. Theoretically, of course, there is the possibility of establishing such a super app in Germany or Europe. The demand is certainly there, the technical infrastructure is there too, and the potential for innovation in Europe, especially in Germany, is still great.

However, in my opinion, there are some challenges that not only make the establishment of a super app difficult, but from today's perspective probably even prevent it. The four main obstacles are the high data protection and regulatory requirements, the fragmentation of the market, cultural differences and user trust.

Super app in Germany: data protection and regulation

One of the biggest obstacles to the adoption of super apps is the strict data protection laws and other regulatory hurdles, which vary considerably from country to country and would need to be taken into account by a super app, especially if it is to be deployed across Europe.

These regulatory requirements set high standards, for example with regard to data protection when collecting, processing and storing personal data. A super app that offers a variety of services would have to manage an enormous amount of user data and would affect many sensitive areas that are strictly and precisely regulated by law.

This would require significant investments in compliance programs and in particular in data protection measures to ensure that all legal requirements are met, which in turn represents an enormous effort, also in financial terms.

Market fragmentation

Unlike in China, for example, where WeChat dominates over Tencent and has a unique position that is also supported by the state, the European market is highly fragmented. In Europe and even in individual countries such as Germany, there are many, sometimes very established providers of various services.

This market fragmentation means that a new super app must not only offer compelling technology, but also challenge the existing market leaders and lure users away from their platforms. Since the established services are often deeply integrated into users' everyday lives and it is difficult to persuade them to switch, this is another major challenge.

Cultural differences

Europe is a continent with many different countries, languages, cultures and preferences. To be successful, a super app must take this cultural diversity into account. This includes not only linguistic adaptation, but also taking cultural peculiarities and local preferences into account.

Developing and marketing such an app to succeed in all these different markets is complex and expensive. Moreover, the adoption of a single platform that integrates all aspects of digital life may be met with greater skepticism in some countries than in others.

User trust

The last major factor that proves to be a challenge in establishing a super app is consumer trust in a single mega platform that represents a super app.

European users are sometimes more skeptical about a single platform that monitors and manages many of their daily activities than users in Asian countries or the United States.

The data protection scandals of recent years have raised awareness and concern about the protection of personal data. A super app would therefore have to make considerable efforts to gain and maintain the trust of users.

Conclusion: That’s why there is no super app in Germany

The idea of ​​a super app in Germany is still fascinating, but in my opinion the implementation faces major challenges. As described, there are various major hurdles and it is currently not clear how these can be overcome with reasonable effort. That is why I think that we will not see a super app in Europe and especially in Germany for a long time.

A possible solution for the future could be the gradual integration of services through partnerships between existing providers and platforms, rather than trying to develop an all-encompassing app from scratch. Companies could work together to create a seamless user experience.

Such an approach could make the effort more justifiable and help to create an integrated user experience on top of existing solutions. The launch of a super app in Germany is not theoretically impossible, but requires significant financial, strategic and regulatory considerations.

I am curious to see whether a company will face the existing challenges – possibly with political support – or whether corresponding innovations will be driven forward – as is so often the case – in other regions of the world.

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Source: https://www.basicthinking.de/blog/2024/07/05/warum-es-in-deutschland-noch-keine-super-app-gibt/

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