Does the World Need a B2B Super App?

In other parts of the world, most notably Asia, super apps are a part of the fabric of everyday life. For instance, you can’t really function in China without WeChat. 

Elsewhere in Asia, other companies are taking credible stabs at becoming regional super apps. 

For example, in Indonesia (population 274 million), Gojek has evolved beyond its origins in ride-hailing to become an app that does almost everything but tuck in your kids at night. And who knows, that may be on the product roadmap.

Back in the U.S., there is on-and-off specification around the emergence of a super app, whether it is B2B, B2C, or some hybrid behemoth. 

And certain company names emerge whenever this discussion pops up. These names generally reflect either the platform’s perceived positioning to become a super app or its current leader’s super app ambitions. Or perhaps both. 

Think Mark Zuckerberg’s infatuation with WeChat. Or perhaps Elon Musk floating the idea of Twitter as “X the Everything App.”

Another company in this mix is Block, best known for its flagship product, the payments solution Square. Block also operates Cash App, which is a leading peer-to-peer payments app that for whatever reason just hasn’t managed to become a verb the way Venmo has. Given its role in providing merchants with everything from point-of-sale payment processing to lending, the super app label lands naturally at Square’s feet. 

At Localogy’s recent L23 conference, Square’s global head of product partnerships Mike Cohen sat down with me for a Fireside Chat. The topic of super apps inevitably came up. Well, inevitably because I brought it up. 

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Not Square’s Goal

Cohen good-naturedly fielded a variety of questions on issues outside of his immediate area of focus. From the controversies surrounding buy now, pay later (Block owns the BNPL platform Afterpay) to the future of super apps. 

Cohen made it clear that becoming a B2B everything app has never been Square’s goal. 

“Our goal is to make the lives of merchants as easy as possible,” Cohen said.

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Cohen didn’t seem terribly bothered when I retorted that this answer sounded like a “bumper sticker” (it kinda did). 

Cohen did eventually offer that if Square is in the super app business, it is so via Cash App (a consumer service) rather than via Square. 

“Where you might see more super app ambitions is on the Cash App side,” Cohen said.

Why? Well, beyond P2P payments, consumers can use Cash App to buy stocks (and Bitcoin), shop on Afterpay, and more. 

So Square doesn’t see a path to a B2B mega app?

Not really, Cohen said. He did offer there is some pull from merchants to make it easier for them to use the app.

“We do get a lot of merchants asking us, ‘Hey, we’re using five different integrations. If we want to see the dashboard for that we need to go then log into those sites.’ So we are working with some partners to try to bring that data in,” Cohen said. 

“I wouldn’t call that a super app. We’ll never be able to answer all the [merchant] needs in one app.”

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