Southeast Asia’s Internet Economy Grows at Blistering Pace

Southeast Asia continues to see rapid adoption of the Internet economy and the pandemic even accelerated digital consumption in the six largest economies in the region, the new e-Conomy SEA 2020 report by Google, Temasek, and Bain & Company showed on 10 November.

So far in 2020, as many as 40 million new users in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam, and the Philippines have joined the Internet, compared to 100 million new Internet users in the period between 2015 and 2019, the report said. As much as 70 percent of the region’s population is now online and is using digital services more than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic. This new digital acceleration is sticky, as 94 percent of new digital service consumers intend to continue with the service even after the pandemic.    

“With technology providing vital access to online shopping, food, healthcare, education, finance and entertainment, more than one in every three digital service consumers started using a new type of online service due to COVID-19. And of those new digital consumers, nine out of 10 plan to keep using at least one digital service beyond the pandemic,” Stephanie Davis, Vice President, Google Southeast Asia, said.

Education, groceries, and lending benefited most from the influx of new digital consumers, the report found.  

Moreover, 8 out of 10 Internet users in Southeast Asia felt that technology was helpful in dealing with the pandemic. Hourly Internet users nearly doubled during lockdown and now remain 10 percentage points higher than what was typical in pre-COVID-19 times, according to the report.

Despite headwinds, the Internet economy in Southeast Asia is set to exceed $100 billion in gross merchandise value (GMV) this year, with Vietnam and Indonesia’s digital economies still growing by double digits, Google, Temasek, and Bain & Company say.

The overall long-term outlook on Southeast Asia’s Internet economy looks more robust than ever, thanks to growing online population, strong fundamentals, greater online supply, and supportive ecosystem, the report found.