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How To Build A Super App: First, Find The Biggest Consumer Pain

Building a platform that simultaneously offers a variety of services for users — otherwise known as a super app — can be a very attractive project for a firm as the consumer relationships such platforms develop with their end users tend to be close, sticky and laden with opportunity. From that super app platform, a firm has a natural launching point of an entire ecosystem and a doorway into their users’ daily interactions, running the gamut from travel and transportation to healthcare, banking, lifestyle and beyond. Being the provider that can provide that supersized umbrella for clients is a tempting proposition.

But, also a challenging one, OMNi Director of Mobility Liza Castillo told PYMNTS, a fact her firm knows from its experience in building digital infrastructure in the Central America and Caribbean (CAC) region and its efforts around developing super apps in new markets where digital is still nascent and super apps are nearly unheard of.

Such an effort, she noted, means starting in the right place for consumers in terms of picking an entry point and focusing on the places where the needs actually exist.

“We, as a company, believe that right now we are facing challenges, extreme ones, both as human beings and as a society. So that’s why we’re pushing to make a difference, and mobility is the core of our economy and our society,” Castillo said. She noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has only sharpened the focus in this area as people are evaluating their methods of mobility more widely than ever before with a fine eye particularly trained on safety.

Mobility services aren’t only about ride-hailing anymore, she said, noting it is also bikes and buses, which must be considered from a wide-angle view of consumers’ total needs. That perspective, she said, requires a cooperative attitude in developing the ecosystem, particularly in terms of working with public officials to bring public transport within the OMNi platform. The harder they push into mobility of late, she noted, the more critical it becomes to work with all stakeholder groups and public officials in concert.

“The new goals I believe we are setting as a society will require a lot of combined work across entities,” she said.

Most recently, Castillo said, that has involved pushing the use of QR payments across transportation services — so that consumers can easily scan a code and hop on a bike, into a taxi or onto a bus or train. The goal, she said, is to build an ecosystem that allows consumers to jump into any mobility service they wish whenever they wish and have a similar, secure and reliable way to apply whenever they do it.

But while building from mobility services is critical for OMNi, in some sense it is only a starting connecting point into the firm’s ideal vision for the future rolling forward.

The bigger goal, she said, is to “replace cash,” and make it possible for consumers all over the Central American and Caribbean region to fully digitize their commerce journey — even when those journeys don’t require any physical movement.

“We are making some studies on the improvements needed out there, so we can know how we can create a whole ecosystem and financial immersion network to meet those needs,” she said. “It’s very important for us right now to help the economy of the region. We can do it in a very fast way by letting people understand how digital methods of payment can make it easier and make their finances more orderly as well.”

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