Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s super-app: How to use hyper-personalisation in your business

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Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s super-app: How to use hyper-personalisation in your business


This content is contributed or sourced from third parties but has been subject to Finextra editorial review.

The super-app is the final boss of hyper-personalisation; the assembled endgame of the personal finance app (PFA). Look up – it’s swooping down to save the day; dropping a gamut of services in the palm of end-users’ hands.

Alas, the term ‘super-app’ has become something of a nebulous catchphrase in the land of financial services. To help demystify this phenomenon and its utility, here are five lessons – from the very best! – on how to unleash the full power of the super-app for your business:

1.      “I believe there’s a super[app] in all of us” – May Parker

Admittedly not the spin Mrs. Parker intended, though she would have been graceful enough to approve of the sentiment.

It’s true – all kinds of businesses stand to benefit from the development and deployment of super-apps; not least because 90% of finance consumers welcome the opportunity to organise their lives with such a facility. 

Across Europe and the Americas, the United States’ tech giants – Apple and Amazon – are leading development, but in other regions, the financial sector has dropped into the action. Asia and the Middle East, for example, have produced platforms such as Alipay, Careem, and Kakao – wrapping up into a single portal mobile payments, credit scoring, ticket booking, ride-hailing, deliveries, voice calling, and media streaming. Of course, there’s also WeChat, which recently added a digital wallet to its offering.

The super-app, then, is a heroic evolution for all kinds of organisations to make a fist of – be it banks, insurers, pension providers, money managers, payment providers, or sundry other fintechs.

2.      “It doesn’t matter who you are, what matters is your plan!” – Bane

The universal appeal of super-apps established, the next step is to consider roll-out. Indeed, goal-specific roadmaps are the Bane of many a creative, but a lack of preparation is kryptonite to any project.

First, the appropriate architecture must be in place to ensure data can be shared freely between a firm’s various silos. This is a technological hurdle, demanding integration with many external systems, services, institutions, payment providers and insurers – deploying different application programming interface (API)s, protocols, and data types.

Next, businesses are advised to construct an asset library with four layers: data, analytics, decisioning and execution. Then the facility may be optimised – utilising the cloud to support AI and ML-derived value; processing customer activity, events, and signals, in real-time.

This scaffolding needs to come together to form a single, front-office application that fulfils an end-user’s innumerable financial needs. Developers may look at features such as intuitive navigation, visual aids, progress markers, and tooltips, to make operation simple.

3.      “Why do we fall? To learn to pick ourselves up” – Alfred Pennyworth

A universal piece of advice from The Bat’s butler. In fact, he would make a good keynote speaker for any DevOps hackathon, because this soundbite also speaks to the perennial challenge of tackling inevitable software bugs.

The tried and tested recourse is what engineers apocalyptically refer to as ‘chaos engineering’ – the act of injecting controlled errors or failures into systems, in order to gain an understanding of how they're going to react. Engineering teams can then ensure the system absorbs, and becomes more resilient to, outages.

As defined by Principles of Chaos Engineering, there are four steps to the process:

  • Define the app’s ‘steady state’. I.e. what is normal behaviour?
  • “Theorise that the steady state will continue in both the control group and the experimental group”;
  • Introduce variables such as bugs, server crashes, hard drive malfunctions, and network connection breaks;
  • Try to disprove the hypothesis by looking for a difference in steady state between the control group and the experimental group.

By carrying out these steps, the super-app your organisation bestows on the market will offer improved availability and durability for customers, as well as the minimisation of reputational damage and a reduction in revenue loss for the business. So, don’t be a damsel in distress: stress test!

4.      “[Super-apps are] a privilege, and must be used for the greater good of people” – Dr. Octopus

‘Doc Oc’ was originally referring to his own intelligence here, but ‘super-apps’ is just as poignant. As a service that orbits inexorably the end-user, super-apps must be conceived with customer service at front of mind.

A Deloitte report proves the demand is there. Customers are on the hunt for the level of detailed understanding around their needs, behaviours and preferences that they enjoy from other sectors, such as e-commerce or entertainment. Moreover, they are willing to hand over their data in exchange for it.

This information is the coal that powers the locomotive, providing deeper and deeper insights into different customer ‘genomes’ – categorised by age, gender, life-stage, and so on. Once this perspective is achieved, firms can build algorithms that spot behavioural patterns and model customers’ likelihood to buy a product or be open to a particular service. These clairvoyant-like predictions are a true superpower for any financial business.

Emerging from the portal will be a multi-verse of services, like shared wallets, bill reminders, automatic bill payments, subscription management, investment options, savings accounts, payments, budgeting tools, loans, and more.

5.      “With great power comes great responsibility” – Uncle Ben

Firms are increasingly subject to highly sophisticated digital attacks – exposing customers’ data to villains. Measures to secure information might include embedding encryption, multi-factor authentication (MFA), ultra-secure servers, as well as other privacy configurations and preferences. 

To this end, firms should heed the European Union’s various information-safeguarding laws, such as General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), Revised Payment Services Directive (PSD2), Anti-Money Laundering Directive (AMLD) and the Artificial Intelligence Act (AI Act).

Of course, GDPR speaks to the way businesses must garner, hold, use and store data, but firms should also keep a laser focus on not allowing current societal biases – around age, sex, gender, or ethnicity – to be baked into the system. Specifically, concerns fall around the potential sub-optimal construction of AI systems which would exasperate ethical issues for the underbanked.  

CAPOW! The customer satisfaction kick

The super–app is at the vanguard of the hyper-personalisation trend that is flying over the financial sector – its cape flapping in the breeze of data.

Failing to capitalise on this phenomenon would be as ridiculous as turning up to work with your underpants over your trousers.


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This content is contributed or sourced from third parties but has been subject to Finextra editorial review.