In the first phase of the web, you logged into websites with your username and password. In the second phase of the web, you connected logins with strong walled gardens like Google and Facebook that allowed your identity to be mobile. In the burgeoning third phase of the web (often referred to as Web3), your digital wallet becomes your access point, carrying the keys to your identity through a vast array of applications and services. The digital wallet is quickly becoming your most important virtual asset for navigating these digital waters.
In a pre-pandemic world, your digital wallet was a nice place to store your credit card or some movie tickets for convenience. Now your digital wallet carries your health insurance, your vaccine cards -- and pretty soon, your driver’s license and other forms of identification. The digital wallet is where your identity is stored in stand-alone, disconnected fashion. If you combine your digital wallet with a password vault where you store all your online passwords, you have one of the most important assets any human being can manage in 2022.
There are many different types of digital wallet, but the one easiest for people to understand is the Apple Wallet available on your iPhone. You can carry it everywhere you go, and it’s accessible at the double click of a button.
A super app is defined by Wikipedia as “a mobile application that provides multiple services including payment and financial transaction processing, effectively becoming an all-encompassing self-contained commerce and communication online platform that embraces many aspects of personal and commercial life." Your digital wallet has the keys, but a super app is the doorway.
The aforementioned walled gardens, like Google and Facebook, are striving to be super apps. So are companies like PayPal and Stripe. Even companies like Uber and Live Nation could and will venture into this space in more ways than they already do. They are all trying to expand beyond their initial purpose to provide users with a a more holistic experience.
For Google, you can already search for recommendations, book travel, buy groceries and have food delivered to your house. Facebook has the same types of offerings. What if you wanted to travel to see a concert? You could eventually buy your tickets, book airfare, set up an Airbnb and reserve dinner, all inside the Live Nation app. Becoming a super app is analogous to offering the right kinds of services to consumers and a single location for purchases -- so much so that you end up on the homepage of a consumer’s phone.
Super apps are what we would call “sticky apps” in Web2: apps that integrate into more aspects of your day than single-use apps. Super apps enable your identity to be shared through multiple transactions.
Web3 is being built as a tool to enable digital transactions to be safer, more secure and easier. Digital wallets, password vaults and super apps are the three most important tentpoles of Web3, and therefore the crux of media in 2022.
The pandemic accelerated consumer usage of these kinds of applications, and is creating easy points of integration for users, further propelling their use. Are you using Uber Eats or DoorDash? Have you ordered online and seen brands pop up like Toast or Square? Are you leveraging tools like Affirm or Klarna in your larger purchases to offset and/or avoid credit cards? These and many more brands are becoming commonplace as they integrate into consumer day-to-day lives.
Keep an eye out and actively think how you may be using any of these companies. Think about how your digital wallet is being used to board planes, enter concert venues, buy online purchases, and more.
As always, it’s an exciting world out there if you just know where to look!