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Careem launches ‘super app’ to provide all of its services in one place

So far, the company’s super app has been localized for users in United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan.

Careem has ambitions to be the super app of the Middle East. Courtesy of Careem via MENAbytes. Careem has ambitions to be the super app of the Middle East. Courtesy of Careem via MENAbytes.

Careem has finally launched its long-awaited “super app” in some of its markets. The app was launched last week without any fanfare, and brings together all of Careem’s offerings in one place.

“The Super App brings us closer to Careem’s purpose of simplifying the lives of people in our region so that they can spend more time on things that really matter and on realizing their full potential. Our hope is that the Super App will unleash potential and accelerate the digital transformation of our region that will help us emerge stronger from this crisis,” said Mudassir Sheikha, Careem’s co-founder and CEO, announcing the launch of the new app on Twitter.

The company hasn’t shared any details about where the new version of the app has been rolled out, but what we’ve learned so far suggests it is live in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan. We’ve requested Careem to share details on this.

As the company has a different set of services in each one of more than 90 cities where it operates, users are going to see a different home screen depending on their location when the new app is rolled out across all its markets.

A Careem user in Dubai, for example, now sees Car, Hala Taxi, Bike, Food, Delivery, and Shops on their home screen, whereas someone in Lahore would see Transport, Delivery, and Recharge. As Careem Bike, the self-drive bicycle rental services that the company had launched earlier this year (not to be confused with motorbike ride-hailing), is only available in UAE, it would only show as an option for users there.

The same goes for Careem Shops—another recently launched service that allows users to order different products, including groceries from Careem’s retail partners—as well as Recharge, which allows users to top up their or someone else’s mobile phone credit balance.

Previously, users had to download Careem’s range of individual mobile apps, including Careem Now and Careem Bike, to use these services.

Careem Pay, the company’s mobile wallet, is at the center of it all. For now, it only allows users to transfer credit or recharge their mobile phone credit in some of the company’s markets, but it may also introduce other features, including QR code or offline payments, in the future.

The launch of this “super app” comes at a time when company’s ride-hailing business is down by 80% due to COVID-19, and it is not expecting a full recovery before 2021. The Dubai-headquartered company, which was acquired by Uber earlier this year for USD 3.1 billion, also had to lay off 31% of its workforce last month and kill its mass transportation business Careem Bus for this reason.

Read this: Super apps help Chinese abroad weather coronavirus outbreak

Careem’s CEO Mudassir Sheikha, in spite of the downturn in the company’s core business, remains optimistic about their plans for their super app. “This crisis is, if anything, accelerating the growth of digital platforms. A lot of people who would go out in the offline world and do things are now forced to do things digitally. My mom, for example, had never used an app but has been forced to use an app to get basic things delivered to her. So, fundamentally, we believe that we’re in a very strong place to come out as a digital platform to come out stronger,” he had said in an interview with CNBC less than two weeks ago.

Careem is not the only player in the region trying to build a super app. We’re seeing the likes of Noon, Halan, and many others move in a similar direction, but what sets Careem apart is its large user and driver base, with many of its millions of users using its app on a daily basis (although this is not valid for now due to COVID-19). And we’ve already seen the likes of Grab and Gojek, which had initially started as ride-hailing businesses, build successful super apps in Southeast Asia.

It remains to be seen if Careem will also open its platform to third-party developers, allowing them to build and sell services to Careem users.

This article first appeared on MENAbytes.