Ever since Elon Musk purchased Twitter last October for $44 million, he has been hinting of spinning the social media giant into what he is calling “X, the everything app.” In fintech, “everything apps” are known as super apps, and they exist primarily in Asia.
One of the latest developments in transitioning Twitter into a super app is Musk’s move to change Twitter’s name to X Corp. But a super app is much more than a name. Here’s a look at what the social media app currently offers, what it’s working on, and what it still needs to become a fully fledged super app.
What it has
Social is most certainly Twitter’s strongest attribute. The micro-blogging platform was founded in 2006 and currently has around 450 monthly active users. While this is a considerable user base, however, it pales in comparison to well-known super app WeChat, which counts 1.3 billion monthly active users.
Earlier this month, Twitter partnered with eToro to not only offer real-time pricing data for stocks, but also to facilitate trades. The trades, however, do not take place within Twitter’s interface. Instead, users are routed to eToro’s website for stock details and to make trades.
What it’s (publicly) working on
Last week, Musk unveiled a new company called X.AI, The move confirmed rumors of his plans to launch a generative AI product after he purchased thousands of graphic processing units. X.AI is expected to compete with OpenAI, which Musk co-founded in 2015 but left in 2018 to avoid a conflict of interest.
While most super apps do not boast their own generative AI tool, adding a powerful chatbot such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT would be a major differentiating factor
Musk is publicly vociferous about his plan to add Venmo-like payments capabilities to Twitter. And it’s not just talk. Twitter filed with the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) and is also in the process of obtaining necessary state licenses, as well.
After Twitter begins facilitating peer-to-peer payments, it may begin offering more digital bank-like tools such as a high-yield savings account or even an X-branded payment card. This leads the conversation into what Twitter still needs to become a super app.
Twitter already offers stock trading (through a third party) and it is working on offering peer-to-peer payments. There is more to personal finance, however, than just investing and spending. In order to truly become an “everything app,” Twitter must offer brick-and-mortar payments, as well as an in-app dashboard that helps users track their spending, savings, and investments.
This may end up being one of the most challenging aspects for Twitter to add in a way that would compete with the current top super app contenders in the U.S.– Walmart and PayPal. Currently, Walmart offers consumers access to goods from an Amazon-like supplier base, as well as to goods in their local Walmart store. PayPal’s shopping experience is less compelling, but offers deals from major service providers and retailers (including Walmart).
For Twitter to start a shopping experience from scratch wouldn’t be unfathomable, but it would take a long time. If it is seeking to compete with Walmart as a super app, it will likely need to find success via a partnership.
A few of the most well-known super apps– Grab, Gojek, and Ola– began as transportation apps. Adding transportation capabilities has the potential to draw users into the app on a daily basis because they not only facilitate commutes via ride-hailing or public transportation payments, they also facilitate hyper-local delivery, grocery delivery, and restaurant delivery. These aspects play major roles in the lives of consumers.
Amazon, Walmart, and others have tackled the fragmented healthcare industry. Providing affordable health services, such as appointment booking, tele-health calls, records management, and ask-a-nurse services in a single place provides a lot of value for end users.
Health services will not be a primary driver bringing users into Twitter’s super app, but it will certainly help to keep them around and may even help target the app’s older users.
Similar to adding health services, insurance tools will not serve as a primary draw for users. However, offering tools such as a digital lock box with insurance cards, contact information, coverage options, and payment history is a valuable add-on and can help reach older users not necessarily seeking social or payment capabilities.
Government and public services
To become a well-rounded super app, Twitter should add government and public services, such as public transportation payment and tracking, library cards, and tax preparation services. In the U.S. however, with the advent of FedNow and the potential addition of a CBDC, the government may end up beating Twitter to the punch with a super app of its own.