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Paytm Mini App Store: App store or attempt to build super app?

Is Paytm’s latest move a plan to retain customers by improving in-app experience? Let’s find out

The Paytm Mini App Store is being billed as the alternative to Google Play store but a cursory look at the Paytm Mini App Store indicates that it is far from challenging the current leader in the space.

To begin with, it can’t be called an app store. The mini app store hosted within the main Paytm app just side loads mobile web version which is far from an app experience. It can at best be seen as a collection of shortcuts to mobile web pages of popular apps and brands.

Paytm mini app store
Here’s how the app store on Paytm app looks like

Paytm too has clarified that their latest product can’t be termed as an app store. “This is a mini app store and not an app store. Essentially, without investing a lot of technology bandwidth, developers can create their mini web application, which gives the end user an app-like experience, and can be integrated with Paytm,” Narendra Yadav, vice president of Paytm, was quoted as saying by Business Today.

“Any developer needs two things — distribution and payment — and we are offering both, including the entire distribution of Paytm at zero per cent fee along with payments for free,” Yadav added.

So, who is it for? With the current set of supply in each category, it may be appealing to first time users who don’t have these apps or those who just want to try a particular brand once. There are 13 categories in the mini app store and we reviewed three popular categories.

  1. Shopping

There are various brands to choose from and the app takes users to the mobile web versions of the brands. You will have to shop as usual with UI and shopping experience totally dependent on the respective brand’s website.

  1. Healthcare

This category gives multiple options including online medical supplies and few insurance providers’ web pages. But when there already exist apps that are giving great user experience in this space, it’s doubtful if people would choose an old-school, lesser-used mobile web version.

  1. Food ordering

Established brands already have their own apps and mobile web versions which are very efficient. A visit via the Paytm mini app store will only side load the web pages without any real value addition. It won’t be a surprise if the digital wallet giant offers exciting incentives and cash backs in the near future, an often-used practice in Paytm’s playbook.

Attempt at building a super app?

Paytm can’t operate its latest offering as an independent app store as long as Paytm exists in the Google Play Store ecosystem. Neither can it add any new mini apps if that particular developer doesn’t already exist on play store. With this in the background, it won’t be a surprise if Paytm mini app store is an attempt at building a super app for the Indian market.

With Tata group planning for an all-in-one super app and tech giants like WeChat and Gojek tasting success by creating super apps which host various mini apps, it would be a logical progression for Paytm.

With the vast majority of Bharat expected to embrace smart phones below Rs 4,000 with limited storage, a super app with minimal storage demand will be attractive.

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