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Careem has been working on its Super App for some time and has now officially rolled it out across the region. The term “Super App” can be misleading if we think about it solely in terms of consumers leveraging products or services. It appears as such because it is packaged and delivered to customers in the shape of a mobile app. In reality, it is actually a platform with multiple facets aimed at empowering both consumers and businesses.

People generally have a lot of apps on their phones, each of which provides a specific service that requires them to maintain an account (identity, profile, and preferences) and link their digital payment methods - which may or may not be supported. Consumers also earn rewards and special offers through various apps but are unable to redeem them across the services they use daily. Furthermore, customers using services that have a financial component also expect a trust and safety system to protect them, which can be a difficult problem domain to take on. All these are symptoms of a larger problem.

As consumers turn towards technology to automate and integrate their everyday lives, they need many of the services they use to work together to avoid duplication of effort while creating a seamless and pleasurable user experience. There is no reason why users cannot have a frictionless experience while accomplishing their daily tasks. It should be a joy to use technology and should leave you feeling powerful, not frustrated. In a nutshell, this is what a Super App is all about. It provides consumers with a single place to perform a multitude of daily tasks while eliminating the duplicate work and frustration involved.

People seldom think of the implications of the Super App concept beyond how it benefits end consumers. A Super App is basically a platform that has the potential to power an entire ecosystem. It empowers businesses to digitize their services and offer them through a pre-existing and robust platform, increase their reach and engagement with pre-validated customers, and leverage battle-tested infrastructure for services such as digital payments, trust & safety, and identity management. As a result of the COVID pandemic, digital adoption by Pakistani consumers has accelerated. The Super App will enable access to this new wave of customers while providing local companies and aspiring startups with the basic building blocks required to rapidly build a digital business at a relatively lower cost.

Careem is throwing its weight behind this concept by powering its own services through the Super App. This includes but is not limited to the transport, deliveries, online shopping, and payments businesses. Dogfooding its own platform will showcase the platform’s strengths, reliability, and robustness that third-party businesses can then trust in and leverage.

Since the Super App is a platform that other products and businesses are built on top of, the technology involved in developing and maintaining a Super App versus a normal app is very different. When you build an app for one product, you are only concerned with the user experience and reliability as it pertains to that service and target customer base. However, when you build a platform, it needs to be flexible enough to be easily integrated with many different products, reliable enough to have almost no downtime to avoid impacting partner businesses, and seamless enough for users to look forward to using it. The intention for the Super App is to be a platform that adds to its user’s experience instead of detracting from it. The platform is also engineered for massive scale and that in itself changes the way the technology is designed and developed.

As a regional tech company, Careem is in a unique position to be the first Super App of the region due to the deep understanding of its customers as well as the realities and differences across the region. If you haven’t seen it yet, update your Careem app and check it out.

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Junaid Chaudhry

Junaid Chaudhry is a Director of Engineering at Careem and is building Careem's engineering team in Lahore.