Southeast Asia’s Digital Economy to Top $200 Billion in 2022: Report – The Diplomat

South Asians continue to use digital technologies at a rapid pace, after three years of accelerated adoption due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new report.

The e-Conomy SEA 2022 report, jointly compiled by tech giant Google, Singapore’s Temasek, and venture capital firm Bain & Company, focuses on the six largest and most digitally connected economies in Southeast Asia: Indonesia , Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Philippines. , and Vietnam.

The report describes an important stage in the development of the countries’ digital economies, saying that of their 460 million internet users, 100 million – more than 20 percent – went online in the last three years.

The report projects that Southeast Asia’s digital economy is on track to be worth $200 billion by 2022. To illustrate the speed of the transition, this threshold has been crossed three years earlier than expected in the inaugural e-Conomy report of 2016 – and double the number in 2019.

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A year after declaring the 2020s Southeast Asia the “digital decade,” this year’s e-Conomy report says the region’s digital economy is “expected to grow twice as fast as the GDP of most countries in Southeast Asia and can reach $1.[trillion] in 2030 when the full potential can be unlocked. “

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“All in all,” it concluded, “[Southeast Asia’s] The digital economy is based on strong social and economic fundamentals, and offline to online trends, which gives a lot to be optimistic about especially when the region is in its ‘digital decade’.

Previous iterations of the e-Conomy report have focused on the impact of COVID-19 on accelerating the region’s already rapid adoption of digital platforms and technologies, including e-commerce, food delivery services, transportation applications, and online media services.

However, the growth rate may begin to slow as consumers begin to return to pre-pandemic behaviors, while some sectors (such as transportation) have not yet fully recovered from COVID-19. . In addition, as the market approaches a point of saturation, companies in the digital economy begin to focus on qualitative improvements rather than rapid growth. “After years of acceleration, growth in digital adoption is normalizing,” the report said. “Most digital players are now shifting priorities from new customer acquisition to deeper engagement with existing customers to increase usage and value.”

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Due to the rapid growth and consolidation of the sector, this year’s iteration of the report includes a section on the environmental and social impacts of the growing digital economy, from the large carbon footprint it creates to its impact on income inequality.

For example, the report states that the digital economy “created 160,000 high-skilled jobs and indirectly supported nearly 30 million jobs, while platforms enabled more than 20 million merchants and 6 million restaurants to grow their businesses online.” But it pointed to concerns about the “welfare of fellow workers,” that is, the poor wages of gig workers in the region, saying that “dialogue between institutions and platforms is needed. “

“The digital decade in Southeast Asia continues to provide opportunities for people, businesses and communities to grow, and there are limitless opportunities ahead,” said Stephanie Davis, the vice president of Google Southeast Asia, in a statement accompanying the release of the report. “While increasing profitability and maintaining growth momentum over the next 2-3 years has become a priority for companies across the region, it is equally important to ensure that the digital economy scales in a sustainable way environmental and social.”

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Of course, left to their own devices there is little chance for the big tech companies to negotiate to improve the conditions of the gig workers who live and benefit from their platforms. Given the recognition of the authors of the report, one might expect a false hope about the ability of giant private companies to operate for the greater good. But the change suggested in the report will only happen if they are forced by governments in the region, which have historically shown little concern for issues such as exploitation and economic inequality.

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