Tech Roundup, Sep. 20, 2019 | The rise of “super apps” in Brazil

Tech Roundup for September 20 | The rise of "super apps" in Brazil

You’re reading The Brazilian Report‘s weekly tech roundup, a digest of the most important news on technology and innovation in Brazil. This week’s topics: the potential market for “super apps” in Brazil. Brazil to finally get its first AI university course. Brazilian 21-year-old wins environmental innovation award. How connected Brazilian kids and teens are.

In Brazil, “super apps” become attractive for saving storage space

As Brazilians

become increasingly more connected to online technologies, the market for apps has skyrocketed. According to a recent <a href="">study</a> by analytics company Adjust, the country boasts the second-fastest-growing app market in the world, only trailing behind Indonesia. But Brazilian users are not loyal to their apps, with the second-highest uninstall rate in the world—only Vietnam sends more apps to the trash.</p> <p>The reason for this is that Brazilian smartphone users are always looking to save storage space. According to Google data, an average smartphone in Brazil has 8 gigabytes of memory, but only 1 gigabyte of storage—which is only enough to keep around 20 apps at any one time. That&#8217;s how &#8220;super apps&#8221;—that is, those which gather multiple services within the same platform—could grow.</p> <p>The model has been a bonafide success in China, with companies such as WeChat (1 billion monthly active users) and Alipay (1 billion annual active users). Brazilians, however, are much less aware of this type of app. A recent Google survey showed 80 percent of users didn&#8217;t know what a &#8220;super app&#8221; was, but 45 percent would be willing to download them, and 30 percent said saving storage space would be the best reason to do so.</p> <figure class="wp-block-embed-youtube wp-block-embed is-type-video is-provider-youtube wp-embed-aspect-16-9 wp-has-aspect-ratio"><div class="wp-block-embed__wrapper"> <span class="embed-youtube" style="text-align:center; display: block;"><iframe class='youtube-player' type='text/html' width='1200' height='675' src=';rel=1&#038;fs=1&#038;autohide=2&#038;showsearch=0&#038;showinfo=1&#038;iv_load_policy=1&#038;wmode=transparent' allowfullscreen='true' style='border:0;'></iframe></span> </div></figure> <p>In Brazil, Colombian unicorn (a startup valued at over USD 1 billion) Rappi is blazing a trail in the super-app market. The company began by only offering food delivery, but now offers their users services such as e-commerce, payments, movie tickets, electric scooters, and even the <a href=";__hssc=245832795.2.1568984229443&amp;__hsfp=3072931553&amp;_ga=2.267098375.843121091.1568984227-736248710.1564757510&amp;_gac=1.41231254.1568984599.EAIaIQobChMI6qyr4rnf5AIVjYWRCh28PwmPEAAYASAAEgKSSvD_BwE">pre-ordering of BMW vehicles</a>. In its quest for a super app, Rappi has the backing of investors such as SoftBank, Sequoia, and Andreessen Horowitz.</p> <p>Retail giant Magazine Luiza has also ventured into the world of super apps. In recent years, the company has made efforts to evolve from brick-and-mortar stores to e-commerce. CEO Frederico Trajano, however, has <a href="">pointed out</a> Brazil&#8217;s regulatory framework as a roadblock for the creation of Brazilian super apps, especially with regard to <a href="">open banking rules</a>, which require <a href="">regulation</a>.</p> <p>Brazilian tech company Movile is also positioning itself as a player to be reckoned with. With a portfolio ranging from food delivery to event tickets, couriers, and even a streaming service for kids, the company raised USD 395 million in funding. One of its companies, iFood, has also amassed USD 592 million.</p> <p>Fintech Nubank could also try to replicate the WeChat model in Brazil. The company has Chinese group Tencent—which owns the social media super app—among one of its backers. At the moment, however, Nubank still offers only financial services.</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>Brazil finally will have its first AI university course</h2> <p>In 2020, Brazil will have its first-ever undergraduate degree in Artificial Intelligence. The course will be given by the Federal University of Goiás (UFG), with an initial investment of BRL 23 million. In seven years, investments on the degree program are expected to reach BRL 100 million. While Brazil already has short qualifications in AI, professors at UFG believe students need more comprehensive courses to master a domain in which Brazil trails more developed nations.</p> <p>&#8220;Professionalization courses are valuable, but AI involves many skills. A more solid academic background, mixing computing and math with entrepreneurship and market-oriented skills, is necessary,&#8217; said UFG professor Anderson Soares, speaking to <em>Exame</em>. The curriculum will be designed around self-driving vehicles, data science, the development of personal assistant tools, predictive models, and machine learning.</p> <p>AI is set to be the most disruptive force workers across the globe have ever faced. A recent survey by the Pew Research Center shows people&#8217;s skepticism about the perks of automation. In Brazil, this <a href="">fear is significantly worse</a> among people aged 18 to 29, as opposed to older age groups. Data shows a 17-percent gap between younger and older workers.</p> <p>A recent IBM report estimates that 7 million Brazilian workers will need to be retrained in the next three years. In a job market with over 12 million people already out of work, AI could have catastrophic effects on the Brazilian economy, which is still heavily dependent on family consumption—in itself affected by unemployment.</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>Brazilian 21-year-old wins environmental innovation award</h2> <p>Anna Luisa Beserra, 21, won the <a href="">UN Young Champions of the Earth Prize</a> in Latin America for making a cistern solution for clean water. She started her project at the age of 15, after winning a grant from CNPq, a government body to foster research and innovation.</p> <p>It took her ten prototypes until reaching with her award-winning water-purification technology, which uses sunlight to kill bacteria without the use of chemicals or disposable filters. The water in the cistern is purified using rays from the sun. An indicator changes color when the water is safe to drink.</p> <p>Ms. Beserra&#8217;s invention is low-cost and easy to maintain, lasting up to 20 years. Aqualuz, her company, can clear up to 10 liters of water within four hours, and has been providing water to 265 people in Brazil as part of a pilot project. “My purpose is to bring the basic right of clean water to disadvantaged communities in rural areas,” she said. “We want to help make people’s lives better and potentially save lives.”</p> <p>There is a clear market for her invention. According to the UN, 1.8 billion people in the world are forced to drink water that is unfit for human consumption—35 million of them live in Brazil. The World Health Organization points out that 1.4 million people died in 2016 alone due to diseases related to the consumption of contaminated water.</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>86 percent of Brazilian kids are online</h2> <p>The Brazilian Internet Steering Committee released its latest study on internet behavior among Brazilian children, showing that 24.3 million youngsters between the ages of 9 and 17 have access to the internet—86 percent of the total population in that age bracket. The rate is much higher than among Brazilians in general, where internet access reaches 70 percent of the population.&nbsp;</p> <p>In the South, the rate goes up to 95 percent of kids online. Even in poorer regions, such as the North and the Northeast, 75 percent of kids are connected, higher than nationwide levels.</p> <p>According to the survey, 83 percent of youngsters mainly use the internet to access multimedia products, such as videos, TV shows, and movies. Seventy-four percent also go online to research school projects. Among youngsters aged 15 to 17, 97 percent are on social media.</p> <p>Recent studies have <a href="">linked the intensive use of tablets and smartphones</a> to cognitive problems, delayed development of motor skills, and mental issues such as depression and anxiety. It has also been singled out as a cause for sleep disorders and problems with school performance. Many experts, however, such as Great Britain&#8217;s Royal College of Pediatrics and Child Health, say there is not enough evidence to support that cause-effect relation.

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Gustavo Ribeiro

An award-winning journalist, Gustavo has extensive experience covering Brazilian politics and international affairs. He has been featured across Brazilian and French media outlets and founded The Brazilian Report in 2017. He holds a master’s degree in Political Science and Latin American studies from Panthéon-Sorbonne University in Paris.