What's in a Name? Unpacking Digital Wallets, Superapps, and Embedded Finance

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11 January 2023

Don't Let the Terminology Become a Distraction


The way consumers pay for daily goods and services or send money to their friends has been changing rapidly. Most of us have more choice and a better user experience than in the past. Yet, all this innovation and diversity of experiences is also leading the industry towards losing common language, making it more difficult to communicate and report comparable metrics.

Yes, the terminology can be confusing, as it often depends on your perspective: what a platform provider might call "embedded finance" an issuing bank might see as a "card on file". Don’t let it become a distraction. Don’t get bogged down on the definitions, and focus on your strategic goals, solving customer problems, and delivering superior payment experiences.

The genesis of this report is in the ongoing dialogue with our clients and others in the industry. Over the last 12-18 months we received many questions about digital wallets, superapps, and embedded finance, and we thought it would be useful to unpack the terminology and take a closer look at various payment solutions operating in different markets.

We also wanted to revisit our report, What’s in Your Mobile Wallet? Winning the Battle for Mobile at the Retail POS, which has just turned 11 years old. It was published in November 2011, long before Apple Pay and just after the very first version of Google Wallet was launched. In that report we proposed a series of requirements that a successful mobile wallet should meet and offered some predictions for the future. At the time, we were hoping to be 50% right; it feels like now is a good time to look back and give ourselves a scorecard. Spoiler alert: we didn’t do too badly!