While the Tata Neu app by itself looked promising, industry experts remained divided on the scope of the super app model in India as complications related to draft e-commerce rules, data privacy and app stickiness comes to the surface.
According to Sonam Chandwani, Managing Partner, KS Legal & Associates, the super app model will require the consumers to be more smartphone savvy for the format to work in India.
“A country or a region becomes super app-ready when a large portion of its population is more smartphone savvy instead of desktops. And for super apps to work, the ecosystem of apps should be customised to local needs,” she said.
Though the app might work out bringing sister brands together, it restricts choice for the consumer which an aggregator or a marketplace provides.
“If you are using or engaging with one or two of its brands regularly, you are slowly likely to start using the other brands as well. For instance, if I have points lying from Taj Hotel and my Vistara flights and if I have the option to combine these points and use it for one of the of other brands like Croma to buy electronics, I automatically become a user of that service,” Sanchit Vir Gogia, Chief Analyst and CEO of Greyhound Research told BusinessLine.
Tata Play - the gamechanger
With the super app running across needs of a consumer and a compulsory use of Tata Pay makes it an ideal scenario for the app to track consumer spending behaviour, purchase pattern and accordingly assign credit scores. Further, analysing such backend details will enable ample of opportunities to build on a fintech play.
Gogia said, “The app is using a lot of AI and ML in the background to analyse data, Tata Neu is a great initiative and good use of money for Tata Digital. Tata Pay offering can easily become the heart of the app. They want to incentivise it better and you’ll see the learning curve and development happening over the next six months to two years. A payments system and right dataset leaves them with endless possibilities to launch new services in the fintech space.”
“They can co-launch fintech products with other companies, extend offers to consumers depending on their profiles and credit history. Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) is one of the most lucrative opportunities especially for Croma which sells gadgets,” he added.
Such data gathering can come across as intruding data privacy. Gogia believes that while this could be a concern, the company would need to educate the consumers about such data collection as they start adjusting to it eventually.
A set of draft e-commerce rules too are in the making, which leaves significant uncertainties around the app’s future.
“In an idealistic world where the draft ecommerce rules are followed, a super app would be an independent marketplace where everyone sells their goods and services providing choice. But a super app is not just an online marketplace, it intends to be much more like social media, travel agent etc. which may attract other market specific regulations making the whole exercise a regulatory nightmare. These are draft rules so far and not surprisingly the industry will and is pushing back,” Shoubhik Dasgupta, Partner, Pioneer Legal said.
Chandwani added, “Draft rules can act as a disadvantage between app operators and related parties. Like Tata will not be able to involve its group entities such as Titan and Taj Hotels, in its super app fold. It is the same for Adani Enterprises. So, Tatas will not be able to sell its own products like Tata Salt - on its e-commerce platform like Bigbasket. Similarly, Reliance will not be able to host Hamleys on its e-tailing platform, JioMart.”