SA’s super app is a major avolution for online shopping

Not long after Nedbank launched Avo 3.0 – the latest version of their super app featuring their new Avo Auto offering – the bank confirmed that one of their users had secured the purchase of a Ferrari California.

Yes, SA has a super app – its own version of China’s WeChat or America’s Omni – and yes, someone bought a Ferrari through a South African super app.

What is a super app?

According to, a super app is essentially a gateway to many services at once. It seems to contain unrelated services on the outside, but under the umbrella of a super app, they create deep connections with each other and make users’ lives much easier.

Super Apps were originally developed in Asia to provide a single platform for users to access a wide range of products and services without having to fill their screens with tons of icons. Technology is spreading globally as so-called “app fatigue” sets in and consumers increasingly seek convenience and high levels of personalization.

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Convenience with a South African flavor

That is essentially the aim of Nedbank’s Avo team – but of course in a South African context. The bank’s technical teams worked for months to bring together as many local retailers as possible, including Woolworths, Nando’s, Clicks, Game Liquor and even Exclusive Books, among countless more. They all converge on one platform, allowing users to make multiple purchases at once from these stores — without having to navigate anywhere else.

The app currently has around 24,000 merchants and since its launch in June 2020, it has reached 1.7 million users this year.

Super Apps and the African Digital Ecosystem

According to McKinsey, total digital ecosystem revenues in Africa are expected to reach R1.2 trillion by 2025, growing at 8% per year.

Introducing Avo 3.0, McKinsey’s Umar Bagus explained that there are currently around 108.6 million cellular connections in the country, and 41.19 million of those are Internet users. The country currently has 28 million active social media users. Around 24.7 million of them buy consumer goods via the Internet. 46.3% of purchases are made via a mobile phone.

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So a super app in SA made a lot of sense. But South Africans needed the app to promise high levels of cyber security and innovative payment and finance options. That’s where Vishal Maharaj — an executive for digital at Nedbank — and his team came in.

Use of digital technologies with products relevant to the SA market

At the launch, Maharaj said Avo 3.0 was the result of over two years of learning since Avo’s launch in June 2020. The team needed to learn what the immediate needs of South Africans were and where they were spending their money. This included items such as rechargeable lamps and food stalls to take away during a shared experience among South Africans – blackouts.

“We learned a lot from our customers and business partners and significantly expanded the platform. Avo 3.0 crystallizes all of this growth and understanding.

“Avo 3.0 is all about bringing a purpose into the mix that makes it much easier for users to solve real-world problems: like how to access the best backup power solution or a new car for a kid at university,” he explained.

Av car

The Avo 3.0 version introduced the Avo Auto offer. It’s a marketplace for car sellers and buyers. There are currently 140 verified traders on the platform. It will soon launch a park and sell feature to connect private sellers to private sellers and 3000+ dealerships. It is also set to expand into several SADC countries via its Africa export offering.

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Maharaj confirmed that one of their app users recently purchased a Ferrari California through the platform. “It’s a level of digital trust that people have come to expect from their e-commerce apps in this digital age,” he commented.

B2B marketplace

In April 2022, Avo also released a B2B marketplace to complement the established B2C platform.

The B2B offering is designed to help companies streamline their value chains.

“It offers companies a way to easily buy products, with a B2B value proposition that allows companies that already have a business relationship to use the platform to negotiate prices, facilitate and track bulk buying, and leverage existing sourcing practices such as to integrate orders,” Maharaj explained.

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