If you have been following the twists and turns of the ongoing saga of world’s richest man Elon Musk’s US$44 billion ($60.4 billion) purchase of microblogging platform Twitter, you may be struggling to keep up with what exactly he would do with it once he owns it. As it turns out, Musk, who originally said he wasn’t looking to make money from the purchase and was interested mainly in defending free speech, now feels that the best way to derive value from Twitter might be to turn it into a superapp with payments at its core.
While you in Asia may have heard a lot about WeChat, the all-purpose superapp owned by Chinese Internet giant Tencent Holdings, most Americans and Europeans do not have anything close to a superapp. A superapp is a single mobile app that offers basic services including chat and payments, alongside a suite of “mini-apps” from third parties, ranging from stores and restaurants to government agencies. WeChat is the everything app — wallet, social media, messaging, food ordering, music and video streaming, bill paying, gaming and a lot more.
“If you’re in China, you kind of live on WeChat,” Musk said on a recent podcast. “It does everything — sort of like Twitter, plus PayPal, plus a whole bunch of things, and all rolled into one, with a great interface. It’s really an excellent app, and we don’t have anything like that outside of China.”