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  • (light music)

  • - [Narrator] On your way to the office,

  • a message comes in from your boss.

  • Can you grab them a coffee?

  • They pay you back in a different app.

  • You go to another app

  • to place an order for pickup

  • and your mobile wallet needs to be updated.

  • (camera shutters) Okay, there.

  • Now coffee,

  • which took four apps to accomplish.

  • But in China, it takes just one.

  • WeChat, a super app.

  • - You just don't have to futz around with your phone,

  • remembering different passwords,

  • opening and closing different apps.

  • It just makes it easy.

  • - [Narrator] So why isn't there a super app in the US?

  • - My idea would be like,

  • how about if we just copy WeChat?

  • - [Narrator] Though some apps have multiple functions,

  • creating a super app in the US

  • is the holy grail for some tech CEOs,

  • and for good reason.

  • Take another look at WeChat.

  • The app launched in 2011 as a social media

  • and messaging service.

  • By the next year, it added a PayPal-like payment option.

  • And in the following years it would integrate a slew

  • of other features, including games, shopping,

  • food delivery, healthcare, and mini apps.

  • - It really sort of does everything.

  • In some ways, it's a stand-in for the internet itself.

  • - [Narrator] And users like it.

  • By 2022, WeChat had 1.3 billion active users

  • and helped its parent company bring in a revenue

  • of about $81 billion.

  • - The beauty of a super app is that

  • you're able to move seamlessly

  • between different functions,

  • share information and data

  • between the different parts of that super app.

  • That's what makes it work.

  • - [Narrator] And that data is the big draw for companies.

  • Let's look back at the apps you used

  • to make that coffee order again.

  • Apps in the US are largely restricted

  • from tracking you across your phone.

  • So each company is only collecting data

  • while their app is open.

  • But with WeChat, you don't have to leave it

  • to make that order or message your boss,

  • or even post a photo of that coffee on social media.

  • That one company gets your data for all of it.

  • - Having a better understanding of what people

  • are purchasing when they're purchasing those things,

  • you know, that becomes invaluable for a business.

  • Or if you're a government for, you know, tax purposes.

  • - [Narrator] That's one of the reasons

  • why companies from multiple industries in the US

  • have made attempts at creating a super app,

  • but their growth has been slowed by several things.

  • A super app in the US

  • would have to contend against thousands of other apps,

  • and changing consumer behavior can be difficult.

  • - We're not really used to using one app for everything.

  • And that's why when companies like Facebook in the past

  • have tried to launch singular apps

  • that do more than one thing at a time,

  • consumers have largely rejected them.

  • - [Narrator] Facebook Messenger said it would simplify

  • its app back in 2018 after adding features like games.

  • Its head, at the time, said that the app

  • had become too cluttered.

  • Another key issue is incorporating a payment system.

  • Take Snap for example.

  • Its payment system, Snapcash, shut down after four years,

  • while apps like Venmo and Zelle are growing.

  • - If you can integrate that payment system into a super app,

  • it just makes that app much more sticky.

  • But it also means, in most cases,

  • that you can control the transaction costs.

  • Maybe you're making a better margin in the transaction

  • and as your user base grows,

  • you start to scale.

  • - [Narrator] But integrating that payment system

  • is a big lift in the US.

  • - A lot of tech companies aren't also

  • a financial services company right out of the box.

  • It's complicated.

  • There's regulations involved.

  • There's different international rules and things like that.

  • - [Narrator] Facebook's attempt at integrating

  • a crypto payment system failed in part

  • because lawmakers and regulators were concerned

  • about payments being used for illicit activity.

  • The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

  • has cracked down on big tech platforms

  • using payment systems in recent years.

  • And data privacy can also become a concern

  • for consumers and lawmakers.

  • - Right now, a lot of people distrust

  • the big tech companies,

  • and the idea of a single tech company,

  • like a Meta or an Amazon or a Google,

  • offering us an app that really houses

  • so many different things

  • from online payments to bill management

  • to health records, you know,

  • is kinda scary to people.

  • - [Narrator] And that becomes an issue for companies.

  • - I don't think at this point

  • technology companies are interested

  • in making it look like they are consolidating

  • their control over our digital lives

  • any more than they already have.

  • I mean, that would just invite regulatory scrutiny.

  • - [Narrator] Some experts and analysts

  • think the future for super apps in the US

  • may look different than WeChat.

  • - I think the path forward

  • for the super app concept in the United States

  • has more to do with verticals

  • than sort of a one ring to rule them all.

  • - [Narrator] So for example, a single healthcare app

  • might house your medical information,

  • as well as features for making appointments and payments.

  • - [Narrator] The first champion that emerges

  • and creates a seamless, frictionless super app-like program

  • that allowed doctors to plug in their data,

  • you know, electronic health records stuff,

  • I think that that is gonna be a huge, huge game changer.

  • A massive disruptor.

  • (upbeat music)

(light music)

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Why It's So Hard for Meta, PayPal and X to Build a Super App Like WeChat | WSJ

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    Kelly Lin に公開 2023 年 09 月 23 日
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