Who wins in 2021 and why


When I went overseas for my studies in 2018, digital wallets weren’t that popular in Malaysia. I remember seeing stores accepting transactions with Alipay and Touch ‘n Go eWallet, but it wasn’t widespread yet.

But when I got home in late 2020, I was shocked to find out how incentivized e-wallets had become. So many cashbacks, discounts, discounts and coupons have been offered.

I was overwhelmed with all the different promotions and reward programs of all the different apps. So, a question struck me: which app is the best?

What is a great app?

The term “super app” was first coined in 2010 by BlackBerry founder Mike Lazaridis and defined it as a closed ecosystem of many apps. This means that a super app is basically an integrated application that provides a variety of different services and offers in a uniform way.

Today, the flagship apps in Malaysia that fall into this category include to dig, Shopee, Tap and go eWallet, Increaseand, more recently, airasia super app.

These super apps have made their way into the public consciousness by excelling in a particular area: most notably, Grab was first launched as a ride-hailing service, Shopee as an online shopping platform, Touch ‘n Go and Wallet for toll systems, Boost with its e-wallet, and AirAsia is, of course, most famous for being a renowned airline.

As we know, however, one criterion for being a super app is that each of these apps must offer a myriad of services. Grab not only offers transportation services, but also offers food, packages, groceries, and even home delivery services that you can pay for through its GrabPay e-wallet.

Shopee has also expanded beyond e-commerce to deliver food and groceries by offering their own e-wallet as well.

ShopeeFood’s user interface when we reviewed its services here

Touch ‘n Go eWallet now doubles as a popular e-wallet that aggregates a number of other third-party services. Like Touch ‘n Go eWallet, Boost has also expanded its reach by offering third-party services such as online shopping, food delivery, insurance, and even investment services.

And now, airasia Super App has joined the chat. The airline heavily marketed the app as “The ASEAN Super App” in the hope that it will take off in the region.

The company moved by acquiring Gojek’s Thai Affairs and the food delivery service Delivery Eat to Malaysia, and even started his own electronic calling services In Malaysia.

The airasia team laughs at launch / Image Credit: airasia ride

With the arrival of AirAsia, Malaysia’s super app marathon has become more serious than ever, and is definitely worth watching.

What is the best super app in Malaysia and why?

Based on the reach, funding and popularity of these super apps, there is a particular app that is clearly leading the race: the Super Grab app. How did we come to this conclusion?


Firstly, when it comes to its core e-hailing business, Grab dominates the market. There are a few other companies on the market for ride-hailing, but Grab is always the go-to.

“Taking a hold” has become synonymous with getting a ride. There are also specific designated drop off and pickup points for cars to be picked up around the country.

Grab has done its core business exceptionally well, and probably the same cannot be said for all the other contenders.

On this solid foundation, Grab has further grown to cover an enormous service bandwidth. The service categories listed on their website include food, transportation, market, delivery, payment, airtime, hotel, premium, gift, and insurance.

Compare this to Boost and Touch ‘n Go eWallet, which are mostly used for wallet features only.


Sure, Shopee has grown exponentially too, but Grab has substantially more downloads.

According to the approximate number of installations on the Google Play Store, Grab has been installed more than 100 million times while Shopee is seated on a slightly higher figure 10 million.

Both of them airasia super app Other Tap and go eWallet they are also said to have over 10 million downloads, while Boost has over 5 million download. While these numbers don’t accurately reflect current usage rates for each app, it’s still a noteworthy statistic.

Brand name:

Lately, Shopee has also strengthened its brand by taking on big names like Jackie Chan and K-Pop acts like TWICE and Blackpink as its ambassadors.

However, that’s not to say that Grab doesn’t focus on its brand and reputation. During the pandemic, Grab was determined to show his support for communities through various efforts.

According to its 2020 Social Report, has dedicated US $ 40 million to relief efforts across Southeast Asia, which helps people see it as a friendly and supportive society.

Arguably, airasia Super App also has a very strong brand name as it is a household name in Malaysia due to the low cost airline of the same name.

However, just because it’s well known doesn’t mean it’s well regarded. AirAsia leaks, like The bankruptcy of AirAsia Japan, it might leave a bad impression that affects the use of its super app.


According to Crunchbase, Grab has raised a total of 12.5 billion US dollars in financing. Shopee’s parent company, Sea, has raised 8.6 billion US dollars.

But the thing is, both Shopee and Grab aren’t making a net profit yet. Shopee’s parent company went public on the New York Stock Exchange in 2017 – although Chinese tech giant Tencent is the largest beneficiary of the listing.

Grab’s next moves will also make him a global player. It is preparing to list its shares in the United States following its merger with publicly traded Altimeter Growth Corp. This merger will allow Grab to focus on its growth in Malaysia and beyond. From scope to branding to financing: Grab has it all figured out.

With a solid foundation and abundant support, Grab will no doubt be able to carry out his ambitious plans.

For now, the other super apps don’t come very close. TNG Digital has RM3 billion (approximately 700 million US dollars) in financing, while Boost Holdings reportedly has US $ 70 million. Crunchbase reports that AirAsia has total funding of US $ 145.7 million.

Right now, there seems to be only further growth in store for Grab, which is why we consider it the leading super app in Malaysia.

But who can say that no one will eventually overtake him along the way? Maybe Shopee will be able to make it on the last lap, or airasia Super App will turn the tide quickly despite being late to the game. So far, though, Grab is comfortably setting the pace forward.

What’s the app for you?

While Grab is winning this super app marathon, that doesn’t mean it’s the perfect fit for everyone. If you don’t usually get food delivered or drive everywhere, the plethora of features Grab offers could be overwhelming.

Maybe you just want to use a simple e-wallet app. This is what I thought at first, which is why I chose to download Touch ‘N Go eWallet when I got home. In America, super apps don’t exist yet and may never be.

There, Postmates is for food, Venmo is for transferring money to friends, and Uber is for when you need a ride. I had gotten used to that kind of mindset, so I thought it was weird to have so much stuff packed into one app.

Eventually though, I started to see the appeal of having everything lean, especially when you’re rewarded with points.

Right now, I’m slowly accumulating my points on Grab to reach that glorious Platinum tier that will give me prioritization, more discounts, and an accelerated earning rate.

But sometimes I wonder how much energy and time I actually save by using just one app. I mean, it only takes a couple of seconds to go out and switch to one app and switch to another one. Is a super app really much more efficient?

Are super apps here to stay?

Sure, all the signs point to yes, but we all know that disruptive innovations can sometimes come without warning.

However, the ethos and notion of super apps definitely follow the trends of our current society. These applications reflect the globalized and digitized reality in which humans want a simplified and integrated experience.

But when it finally becomes clear that Grab, or any other super app, has won the marathon, what does that mean for us? Will we have to face the disadvantages of a monopoly? Discuss the evils of a gigantic big company?

Well, no matter what the future holds, one thing is clear: This solid super app showdown highlighted Malaysia’s innovative and economic capabilities, marking the beginning of a technological or innovative heyday in Malaysia.

And right now, we are looking at Grab to continue to lead by example while waiting to see if others will move forward anytime soon.

  • You can read more opinion articles from us here.

Featured Image Credit: Bloomberg / Forbes


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