Southeast Asia’s digital economy goes from strength to strength

Southeast Asia’s digital economy is facing unprecedented levels of growth. And the new home-centric digital trends show no signs of slowing down.

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Southeast Asia’s (SEA) digital economy is facing unprecedented levels of growth. Facebook and Bain & Company’s SYNC Southeast Asia research reveals that since the start of the pandemic, 70 million people have become digital consumers – the equivalent to the entire population of the United Kingdom. It’s a significant achievement for the region and speaks to the success of the online economy that’s become the “new normal”.

The digital transformation happening across the region is only here to stay, with research predicting that by 2026, SEA’s digital consumer population is expected to reach around 380 million, which is 1.4x bigger than it was in 2019. People are feeling increasingly comfortable spending across online platforms. A habit which solidified during the pandemic.

COVID-19 changed not only consumer behaviour but the purchasing journey. There’s been innovation in the way people shop for their groceries all the way to e-payments outgrowing cash. And it speaks to some wider trends that the rest of the world can learn from.

Existing technological infrastructure accelerates digitisation

In 2020 alone, there were 40 million new digital users in SEA, with many of the new users coming from non-metropolitan areas in Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. It pushed the total number of internet users in SEA to 400 million – nearly 70% of the population. According to the e-Conomy SEA 2020 report by Google, Temasek Holdings & Bain, of the millions of internet users in the region, 90% of them are connected to the internet via their mobile phones. Access to the internet, and by extension its services, has provided a massive boost to the region’s digital economy.

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