Regional Roundup: Southeast Asia’s internet economy

By BizClik Admin

Southeast Asia (SEA) is one of the most dynamic and entrepreneurial areas in the region, with one of the most promising industries being technology, as a new report emphasises.

Co-authored by tech giant Google, Singapore government-owned Temasek and consultancy Bain & Company, e-conomy SEA 2019 found that SEA’s “internet economy” is worth $100bn.

That’s been powered by the rise of mobile internet. A decade ago, just 20% of the population had internet access. Today, SEA sports 360mn internet users according to the report (roughly 55% of the total population), with 90% being connected via mobile means.

The prevalence of mobile connectivity has resulted in a thriving technological scene, keen to take advantage of the aspirations of a newly tech-savvy populace. 


One prominent area of growth is in ride-hailing, with Singapore’s Grab and Indonesia’s Gojek the dominant forces. Grab acquired Uber’s operations in the region in 2018, leveraging its local knowledge to deliver a product more tailored to the local market. In a similar vein, Gojek got its start specialising in two-wheeled ride-hailing, with its very name referring to the ubiquitous local motorbike taxis.

As regional companies such as these have grown their customer bases, they are increasingly transitioning into so-called “super apps” in order to drive new forms of engagement. This approach sees a suite of services being offered inside the same application, such as digital payments or food and parcel delivery.

More than $37bn has been invested in technology as well as the almost 3,000 startups located in the region. A sizeable chunk of that has been snapped up by SEA’s unicorns, such as the aforementioned Gojek and Grab.

With the report predicting SEA’s internet economy to rise to $300bn in 2025, SEA is set to continue its meteoric rise in the technology space, powered by tech companies of the established and new variety.


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