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AppDate: MEA sees rise in super-apps

In this AppDate, SEAN BACHER delves into the rise of super-apps in the Middle East and Africa region, MyNetstar, Aviro Pocket Clinic, LayUp and SHAREit



The rise of super-apps in MEA

From ride-hailing services to grocery delivery and financial services – such as buy-now-pay-later and micro-financing – super-apps are rapidly emerging in the Middle East and Africa.

A study carried out by Economist Impact for Mastercard MEA, called “From online bazaar to one-stop-shop: The rise of super-apps in the Middle East and Africa,” found specific factors that enabled the rapid growth of super-apps. Key findings include:

  • Locally active super-apps are proliferating across the MEA region, but larger cross-regional players remain rare. Companies like Uber have emerged as local champions, expanding from ride hailing to restaurant delivery. MTN has introduced person-to-person mobile money payments on its Ayoba app.
  • The prevalence of low-end mobile phones as well as high internet costs in the MEA region make super-apps attractive. MEA has historically been the region with the lowest levels of connectivity as well as highest fixed-line broadband costs. Mobile operators have provided the region with affordable low-end smartphones. In many countries, the advent of cheap smartphones has allowed populations to leapfrog desktop technology and adopt mobile apps as their first digital device. Super-apps offer an all-in-one platform that require less bandwidth and data to operate.
  • Super-apps can be drivers for financial inclusion in MEA. For people living in remote parts of MEA with poor technological infrastructure, this offers an opportunity for greater digital inclusion. Furthermore, in remote areas where a lack of traditional banks has contributed to scant financial services, super-apps enable previously unbanked people to do financial transactions and become part of a wider financial ecosystem.

Download the report here.


Netstar’s new progressive web application (PWA) is helping to keep families safe with live car tracking – not only protecting against car theft, but also reducing the drama of false alarms.

MyNetstar can be installed and accessed directly from a web browser or smartphone. PWAs update automatically, saving time and data.

MyNetstar allows for 24/7 vehicle tracking for Netstar customers and quick access to manage or upgrade their accounts. Customers can also use MyNetstar to get fitment and device test certificates.

The app reduces the risk of false alarms, where cars are reported missing but the customer has simply forgotten where they parked their car.

Parents can also check their teenagers’ whereabouts if they “borrow” the car. The PWA can monitor the car’s every movement.

Platform: Android, iOS and any computer with an up-to-date Internet browser

Expect to pay: Costs range from R100 to R200

Stockists: Visit Netstar’s web page here for more information.

Aviro Pocket Clinic

South African digital health start-up Aviro has launched a digitally-enabled service to help users interact with doctors. Called Aviro Pocket Clinic, the service has been used by over 50,000 people since its soft launch last year.

Aviro Pocket Clinic assists patients with screening and counselling. This includes helping with appropriate and practical tests, such as a personal test for HIV and moving through diabetes screening and counselling.

“The reality faced by the healthcare system is that it is not currently set up to provide interventions that enable healthcare workers to support patients with things like remote self-testing,” says Aviro Health CEO Dr Musaed Abrahams.

The service is free to patients and is made available through partnerships with health providers in both the public and private sectors. To help health workers integrate the service into their care delivery, Aviro provides health staff with training, communication materials, and simple digital tools that help them to initiate, monitor, track and support their patients.

Patients can access Aviro Pocket Clinic either online at home (through a WhatsApp chatbot or free website) or, if the user doesn’t have a mobile device (or privacy) at home, via tablet-equipped booths at key locations like clinics or pharmacies.

Platform: Any device with an Internet connection

Expect to pay: A free service

Stockists: Visit the Aviro site here for registration instructions


Nearly 24% of adults in South Africa are unbanked and R12-billion in cash is believed to be held outside the banking system. COVID-19 related lockdowns have sent unemployment figures soaring to an estimated 7.6-million, meaning that nearly 30-million people are locked out of the South African economy. More people are being forced to turn to credit to help make ends meet, but millions lack a credit record to enable them to access secured loans, seeing them turning to disreputable lenders, with dire consequences.

Those millions of South African consumers who are unable to access credit make use of the lay-by system. A lay-by traditionally allows customers to choose an item at a store and pay a deposit, followed by monthly, interest-free payments until the full amount is paid up and they can take delivery of their items. 

Local fintech startup LayUp is modernising the lay-by process for merchants and consumers with a mobile app. It is also launching a terminal app via payment and merchant solutions provider Dashpay, which will make the app accessible to millions of potential customers at thousands of points of sale (POS). LayUp provides instant verification and easy management at the store where the lay-by was initiated.

Dashpay is rolling out the app on its Android N910 touch screen POS terminals across the country. Merchants sign up via to be able to offer the facility to customers, with capped fees and low transaction costs.

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: A free service

Stockists: Visit LayUp here for registration instruction and to see a list of stores offering the payment method.

SHAREit ranks 4th in app chart

The SHAREit app that allows one to quickly share files between devices in close proximity and offers a range of games, videos and music has been ranked 4th globally in AppsFlyer’s non-gaming retention and IAP Index report. It comes in behind giants Google, Facebook and TikTok.

SHAREit’s Game Centre has attracted a large following, offering one of the world’s largest catalogues, of over 2,000 mobile games of various genres from casual, mid-core, hyper-casual to arcade, simulation and puzzle.

“SHAREit is playing a role in paid app growth and usage in the African region,” says  Chanel Hardman, country manager of SHAREit. “After installation rates, retention is a hugely valuable metric for app marketers, because it determines customer lifetime value. In 2021 we not only helped brands with massive user acquisition, but also enhanced their quality with high retention rates.”

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: A free download

Stockists: Download the app for Android here and for iOS here