Southeast Asia’s Internet sectors continue to see strong growth, hitting $100 billion in 2020, and are on track to cross $300 billion by 2025 stated a report by Google, Singapore state investor Temasek Holdings and business consultants Bain & Co.

The e-Conomy SEA 2020 report sheds light on the internet economy in the region, covering Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam and shows that internet usage in Southeast Asia continues to multiply, with 40M new users this year alone (400M YTD vs. 360M in 2019).

Super surge in new users

40M new users joined the Internet in 2020
40M new users joined the Internet in 2020, compared to 100M between 2015 and 2019

New users are coming online at a blistering pace, adding 40M new Internet users this year alone compared to 100M between 2015 and 2019 and 70% of the region’s population is now online.

During lockdowns, new users made up 38% of the region’s Subscription Video on Demand services (SVOD).Music subscriptions, on the other hand, grew at a slightly slower pace of 34% in the same period.

The coronavirus has brought about a permanent and massive digital adoption spurt, with more than 1 in 3 digital services consumers (36% of total) being new to the service, of which 90% intend to continue their newfound habits post-pandemic.

Google, Temasek, Bain Southeast Asia’s Internet economy research program

Thailand to have second largest internet economy in the region

In Thailand, with its various stages of lockdowns, users turned to the Internet for solutions to their sudden challenges. A significant number tried new digital services: 30% of all digital service consumers were new, with 95% of these new consumers intending to continue their behavior post-pandemic.

Thailand is projected to have the second largest internet economy in the region this year after Indonesia, despite economic challenges: the internet economy is projected to climb 7% to $18 billion this year, the second largest internet economy in Asean.

Resilience in times of crisis

e-Commerce has driven significant growth in Thailand, at 81%. This steep ascendance has largely offset declines in Travel and Transport. Overall, 2020 GMV is expected to reach a total value of US $18B in 2020, having grown at 7% YoY.

Looking at 2025, the overall e-Conomy will likely reach US $53B in value, re-accelerating to ~25% CAGR.

Online with a purpose

Southeast Asians spent on average an hour more a day on the Internet during Covid-19–imposed lockdowns, and it’s easy to see why. The Internet sector provided access to essential goods, healthcare, education and entertainment, and helped businesses “keep the lights on.”

With 8 out of 10 Southeast Asians viewing technology as very helpful during the pandemic, it has become an indispensable part of people’s daily lives. 

New frontiers

HealthTech and EdTech have played a critical role during the pandemic, with impressive adoption rates to match. Even so, these sectors remain nascent and challenges need to be addressed before they can be commercialized at a larger scale. Nonetheless, the boost in adoption, compounded with fast-growing funding, is likely to propel innovation in this space over the coming years.

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