Thailand’s digital economy is projected to explode by 2025, according to a 2016 study conducted by Google and Temasek, a Singaporean investment firm.
The study outlines some reasons why the digital economies of Thailand and other Southeast Asian countries could be sitting on a huge powder keg. Thailand’s bricks and mortar shopping culture thrives stronger than ever with new megamalls like ICONSIAM, which opened last year.
The strength of the mall culture demonstrates how little ecommerce has impacted the Kingdom so far. But that’s not to say that ecommerce will never flourish in Thailand; it’s more that the conditions haven’t quite come together yet. The study claims that the various conditions needed for the ecommerce explosion are arriving faster than ever. We’ve summarised some of the reasons given below.
Mobile internet growth. The study claims that over a decade ago, four in every five Southeast Asians had no internet connectivity. Today SEA’s smartphone penetration and engagement are amongst the highest in the world. Thailand also has some of the most engaged Facebook users in the world, with 46 million users out of a population of 64 million recorded last year.
2019 saw Southeast Asia’s digital economy hit a record $100 billion. Growing 300% since 2015, ecommerce apps like Shoppee and ride hailing apps like Grab have blown previous estimates out of the water. The boom is projected to explode even further, tripling again to $300 billion by 2025.
Digital payment platforms are hitting critical mass. The study predicts that almost half of all money spent in Southeast Asia will be spent via payment apps, following in China’s footsteps. Southeast Asia has a large unbanked population, estimated to be 30% in Thailand, who are in need of more accessible digital payment solutions like China’s immensely popular Alipay.
The only thing the study indicates that could hold Thailand back from this huge expected digital growth is manpower. Whilst Thailand offers talented developers at affordable salaries there aren’t enough of them and the demand is going through the roof. If Thailand offered a government-backed incentive for people to learn coding it could be the catalyst for the country’s digital transformation.
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