In a crowded app marketplace, the most successful are service-hubs: from Google and Facebook, to WeChat in China, the most-downloaded apps offer a raft of offerings from different businesses.
In mature markets, this means that the most popular consumer apps can retain market dominance by adding additional services for their existing communities. In emerging markets, consumer apps that can expand their service offerings as they grow their user base among new smartphone users have the opportunity to capture greater market share. And App Annie projects that app downloads worldwide will reach 250BN by 2022.
Chinese downloads and spend are leading the way for other emerging markets, this study tells us, and consumer apps such as WeChat are seizing the opportunity as new users discover the apps most useful to them. This makes WeChat a platform where entrepreneurs can make impact, especially considering WeChat’s reporting that of the majority of small- and medium-sized businesses that take payments on WeChat, 53 percent were generating revenue, a fifth as much as between $16,000 and $160,000.
The experience of apps such as WeChat provides clear lessons for the business-to-business app market. The Humaniq app, launching in its first year in four continents to target millions of people without access to banking services, is applying them.
Humaniq, similarly to WeChat, initially launched as a powerful messenger service for basic smartphones, in Humaniq’s case powered by a Hybrid Blockchain, alongside a crypto-wallet and a biometric ID system.
Within two years of WeChat’s launch, users consumed data that cost users more than US$15BN according to figures from Tencent Tech. Humaniq is targeted at younger markets, from Senegal to Uganda, and is a B2B financial empowerment app, so is not directly comparable with an app where consumer services can be bought. It is impressive, however, that in its first year, the app saw infrastructure demand increase ten-fold, with requested traffic reaching hundreds of megabytes per second, in large part due to its messenger service.
Indeed, Humaniq’s over 500,000-strong community sent over 60 million messages and made more than 1.4 million transactions, many peer-to-peer. This suggests that messenger services establishing their utility early on become a solid base for providing an entire ecosystem of services.
In Humaniq’s case, the B2B business model means putting small businesses who have generated so much revenue in messenger apps at centre stage. We believe this can quickly maximize the usefulness of a messaging service. Business Chats inside the Humaniq app allow users to access a marketplace based on the chat features. Here they can buy and sell goods and services with the app’s cryptocurrency, HMQ. To become a high-utility service-hub, we will be populating the ecosystem of services almost as fast as registrations grow.
The growth in the Humaniq community has to date been fueled by a referral and incentive system. Users can use cryptocurrency to encourage more app downloads. And users gain more cryptocurrency as they use services on the platform.
The B2B opportunities in many African nations — where economic growth averages three per cent across the entire continent, and is as high as seven to ten per cent in a number of nations such as Cote D’Ivore, Senegal, Tanzania and Ethiopia — are set to expand further, given the level of overall business activity. Humaniq is positioning itself to take advantage of the economic empowerment of entrepreneurs in these positive economic conditions. To do this, it wants to connect companies within the financial services sector with those local enterprises benefiting from this growth.
A case in point is the agriculture sector. Humaniq is assisting entrepreneurs in this area to start and expand businesses. Through support and knowledge, Humaniq is helping them to seize the opportunities in agricultural diversification and productivity improvements. Of course, those that succeed in farming businesses will require loans in order to expand. They will also require savings to even out cash flow through the leaner months; and insurance to mitigate against the risk from weather events. The full range of financial services can easily be offered by FinTech firms to the emerging market entrepreneurs on the Humaniq app platform. The app’s open API encourages these kinds of fruitful connections.
One of the first business services offerings on the FinTech platform is the Jamii Africa micro-health insurance startup. This offers affordable insurance packages to low-income, informal-sector workers. Jamii Africa, launched in partnership with Vodacom Tanzania Ltd, the Jubilee Insurance of Tanzania and Edgepoint Digital Ltd, now has over 40,000 users in the East African nation. Jamii has been working towards launching operations in Southern and West Africa. Under a Memorandum of Understanding with Humaniq, Jamii will at a stroke expand its presence across the continent, to the 22 nations where Humaniq operates.
What is the promise of the service-hub business model represented by the Humaniq app? A new user, who has just got their first smartphone, registers with the Humaniq app to receive bonuses and easily chat with a data-light app for a basic smartphone. They then are able to access new opportunities that they would not have known about before — perhaps a freelance assignment. They then, also on the Humaniq app, can access new financial services and use their new income and crypto rewards to invest in these. This allows them to prosper and flourish and, and through reading Humaniq Stories educational channel, they get ideas for their own business. Using the business chat, they can sell their ideas and products.
In short, the future for B2B apps is to cater to the whole of a person’s economic life as it unfolds: a story now that promises to be fuller and more eventful. And the result? Greater business activity, powered by an app-based economy.
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