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Don't worry, we speak : Español (Spanish), too!

Rise of the challenger apps. OMNi to take on super-app Rappi

Don't worry, we speak : Español (Spanish), too!

ContxtoOMNi is a Costa Rican startup that operates in Central America and the Caribbean. It claims to have developed the first super-app in the region, offering e-bike sharing services, a neobank, and soon ride-hailing and digital payment solutions. 

In correspondence with Contxto, David Luza Echeverría, Executive Assistant at OMNi, said he believes that Central America’s technological lagging could actually prove to be a benefit for a company. 

Take the startup’s soon to launch QR solution. In other parts of Latam, even the government is getting into the digital payments game, not so in Costa Rica. But, OMNi also sees the lag as an opportunity to try and leap-frog the competition: 

“QR transfers do not require a physical infrastructure other than an internet connection and a smartphone. The lack of technological development allows for a faster adoption curve as there are no legacy issues either.”

OMNi challenger app

If I’m being very strict, I’d say that OMNi isn’t quite a super-app just yet. The proper definition states that that category is reserved for apps that provide “everything a user needs in one place”. 

OMNi is still missing the bells and whistles that Rappi has—food delivery, event live streaming, delivery robots… However, the Costa Rican challenger app hints that it already knows this. 

“The company’s DNA is aggressive,” said OMNi’s representative. And, indeed, by looking to raise a Series A mega-round worth US$250 million they’re clearly looking to have a hefty battle chest.

Furthermore, Luza told Contxto that OMNi was standing on the shoulders of giants:

It is a business model we imported from Singapore, specifically with Grab (a Sigaporean super-app) in mind. We currently have a collaboration contract with them to ensure we have the best technical know-how to guarantee that our company completely takes over the market.

The bravado shown by OMNi towards Rappi is evident. But then again, maybe that’s what it takes. Until now, the world of super-apps in Latam has been played as a winner takes all battle.

Rappi vs OMNi: Regional regionalism

But is this winner-take-all model the future?

Certainly, Rappi would like to have you think so. It would seem, by the looks of this map, that it has an iron grip over Latin America:

Source: https://www.maketecheasier.com/what-are-super-apps/

But, that might just be your big-country fixation. Look at that big grey area between North and South America. That, my friends, is a land known as Central America and it is a region of over 50 million inhabitants and massive potential.

Indeed, Rappi and its competitors may have screwed up for this very big-country-centrism. 

Lately, Cornershop and Domicilios.com have been clashing with Rappi for its home turf of Colombia. This may have proved to be a fatal distraction for Colombian super-app’s regional conquests, giving OMNi enough breathing room to launch its own take over of Central America and the Caribbean.

OMNi’s strategy seems to reflect its Asian partner’s strategy: A thriving multi-app ecosystem. 

Source: https://medium.com/business-ideas/growing-market-scope-for-super-apps-in-2020-bc1dc1af9f2c

Indeed, the Costa Rican’s territories match up precisely with the areas Rappi is not in.

Startup battle royale

But don’t think for a second this fledgling super-app is not ready to duke it out. In fact, Luza went on by saying that OMNi’s ride-hailing service will “allow for enough pressure to force Uber out of the region.”

This is a similar approach to Yaigo’s regional expansion. The Bolivian startup is taking its delivery services to areas that are under-catered by other, bigger scaleups. 

It seems that these startup startups are trying to prove that it is not specific sectors where companies should be sinking their investments, but in specific regions. That is where OMNi is placing its bets: On being your friendly, local, jack of all trades app. 

Big talk for a small startup. But then again, that’s what they said of all of its predecessors

-AG

Alejandro González Ormerod
Historian, writer, and editor from Mexico City. He was a book publisher, academic, and cheesemonger before joining Contxto. Still deciding on which Latin American country to visit next; food and fun are the main criteria.

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