Southeast Asians continue to adopt digital technologies at a breakneck pace, after three years of rapid adoption due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new report.
the e-Conomy report SEA 2022Jointly compiled by tech giant Google, Singapore’s Temasek, and venture capital firm Bain & Company, it focuses on the six largest and most digitally connected economies in Southeast Asia: Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, and Vietnam.
The report describes a pivotal period of growth in the digital economies of these nations, noting that of their 460 million Internet users, 100 million (more than 20 percent) went online in the past 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 change, this threshold was crossed three years earlier than predicted in e-Conomy’s inaugural report in 2016, and double the figure of 2019.
A year after declaring the 2020s as Southeast Asia’s “digital decade,” this year’s e-Conomy report states that the region’s digital economy “is expected to grow twice as fast as GDP in most from Southeast Asian countries and could fetch up to $1[trillion] by 2030 if the full potential can be unlocked.”
“Overall,” he concluded, “[Southeast Asia’s] The digital economy is built on strong social and economic fundamentals, and offline-to-online trends, providing much to be optimistic about, especially as the region settles into its ‘digital decade.’”
Previous iterations of the e-Conomy report have focused on the impact of COVID-19 in accelerating the rapid adoption of digital platforms and technologies in the region, including e-commerce, food delivery services, transportation applications and online media services.
However, the growth rate may have started to slow as consumers begin to revert to pre-pandemic habits, while some sectors (such as transportation) have yet to fully recover from COVID-19. . Furthermore, as the market approaches a saturation point, companies in the digital economy have begun to focus on qualitative improvements rather than rapid growth. “After years of acceleration, growth in digital adoption is normalizing,” the report states. “Most digital players are now shifting priorities from acquiring new customers to deeper engagement with existing customers to increase usage and value.”
Given the rapid growth and consolidation of the sector, this year’s iteration of the report has included a section on the environmental and social impacts of the growing digital economy, from the huge carbon footprint it has generated to its impact on income inequality.
For example, the report states that the digital economy “has created 160,000 high-skilled jobs and indirectly supports nearly 30 million jobs, while platforms have enabled more than 20 million merchants and 6 million restaurants to do grow their businesses online. But he pointed to concerns about “the well-being of worker-partners,” that is, the region’s low-paid temporary workers, which he said required “dialogue between institutions and platforms.”
“The digital decade in Southeast Asia continues to provide opportunities for people, businesses and communities to grow, and there are limitless opportunities ahead,” Stephanie Davis, vice president of Google Southeast Asia, said in a statement. statement accompanying the publication 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 just as important to ensure that the digital economy grows in an environmentally and socially sustainable manner” .
Of course, left to their own devices, there is little chance that the big tech companies will negotiate to improve the lot of the temporary workers who populate and profit from their platforms. Given the identity of the report’s authors, one might perhaps expect some misplaced optimism about the ability of giant private companies to operate for the common good. But the change the report suggests will only happen if they are forced by the region’s governments, which have historically shown little concern for issues such as exploitation and economic inequality.