Dan Schulman, CEO of PayPal, recently said he sees a future where their technology could be the “one-stop shop for all things shopping and finance.” I believe he’s right. I also believe a pistol just fired to start this race – the race of the super apps.

What’s a super app?

A super app is an ecosystem – it’s one location where consumers can manage a wide array of tasks in one place. We’re talking the ability to engage in shopping, social interactions, and financial affairs all within one experience. This is already a reality in China, à la WeChat. Here in the U.S., we’re just in the first inning, and leading off is “embedded finance.”

What’s embedded finance?

This is a term to know. Embedded finance is the ability to interact with financial services (saving, investing, lending, insuring, etc.) in places that are not native financial services apps. This is the first step toward creating the super app.

The next big disruption

There are a few reasons why I believe super apps will soon become a reality in the U.S., and why embedded finance is the next big disruption:

  1. Finance is disconnected. We shouldn’t have to put our money into one place to save, then another to invest, yet another to get a loan, and then access a completely different place to make a purchase. It’s beyond inefficient – it’s nonsensical.
  2. Wealth inequality has taken center stage. Consumer companies like Walmart and Nike have invested in wealthtech – they want to build an equitable future. However, it’s not all philanthropic. They also want to build a future where their target customers can afford their products.
  3. Traditional investing and banking models have been shaken. With an abundance of challengers storming the incumbents, consumers have started to put their trust – and money – in different places. Banks are focused on expanding and embedding more finance – digitally – and challengers will keep the pressure on.
  4. There are BILLIONS of dollars, doing nothing. For one example, 34 percent of the working American population is participating in the gig economy.1 These people are getting paid in-app or via some digitally connected service, like PayPal. Today, there’s no easy way to put that money to work.

What will embedded finance look like?

Imagine being able to save for your goals right where you shop. The efficiency! Think about how you currently shop for a house or car, an appliance or renovation. Sure, financing options are offered at many purchase destinations, but what about saving and investing?

Picture being able to invest your money right where you receive it – maybe that’s PayPal, or Uber, or Instacart. You will soon automatically parse your payments directly into investment portfolios and savings accounts. Envision returning an item to Amazon and seeing the prompt, “Do you want your refund credited back to your credit card or do you want it deposited into your investment account?” Opportunities like that make an impact, and experiences like this are coming – soon.

Why should I care?

Okay, so we’ll have super apps and embedded finance everywhere. But, why is this important?

First, embedded finance is going to become a new category of financial services. Matt Harris, a Partner at Bain Capital, estimates that this category will be worth $3.6 trillion dollars by 2030 in the U.S. alone.2 This is money that won’t be going into banks and traditional brokerages – at least not from the same entry point. These are accounts that currently don’t have a central view or dashboard. These are customers that might not have financial advisors, yet.

Investing and saving will happen differently. They will be purpose driven, enabled by a whole new demographic – consumer companies – those that know how to engage users, how to speak their language, and how to make experiences seamless and fun. These consumer companies will be changing the literal language of finance.

Think about investing in a climate change portfolio through Amazon or Uber, and then trying to make a transition to self-directed investing through a retail brokerage firm. It doesn’t fit. And that’s why this is a big deal – tracks are being laid, and the destination for future investors isn’t the same.

This changes the acquisition game for financial advisors. How will you find these customers who are building wealth disparately through consumer apps? And when you find them, how will you advise them?

We need wealthtech companies like Envestnet to power this new movement in financial services. A consumer will be able to enter the finance ecosystem from any app. Increasing the number of entry points into the ecosystem also accelerates the need to have a central portal that can connect this consumer’s newfound financial life. Envestnet can provide professional-grade access and tools through these consumer apps, so customers are empowered with more than just gamified self-directed trading – towards financial wellness. And Envestnet can connect the pieces. We can cultivate tomorrow’s investors and empower advisors to serve this new cohort. This is crucial for growth.

Interested in a deeper dive into embedded finance? Check out my presentation from Advisor Summit On-Demand 2021. Embedded finance is the next big disruption. Are you ready?


  1. Nandita Bose, “EXCLUSIVE U.S. Labor Secretary supports classifying gig workers as employees,” Reuters.com, last modified on April 29, 2021, https://www.reuters.com/world/us/exclusive-us-labor-secretary-says-most-gig-workers-should-be-classified-2021-04-29/.
  2. Matthew Harris, “Fintech: The Fourth Platform – Part Two,” Forbes.com, last modified on November 22, 2019, https://www.forbes.com/sites/matthewharris/2019/11/22/fintech-the-fourth-platformpart-two/?sh=162e35ec5be6.

The information, analysis and opinions expressed herein are for informational purposes only and do not necessarily reflect the views of Envestnet. These views reflect the judgment of the author as of the date of writing and are subject to change at any time without notice. Nothing contained in this piece is intended to constitute legal, tax, accounting, securities, or investment advice, nor an opinion regarding the appropriateness of any investment, nor a solicitation of any type.

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