In Southeast Asia, COVID-19 Speeds Transition to Digital Technologies
As the novel coronavirus has undertaken its deadly migration across the globe, most attention has understandably focused on its immediate public health consequences, as well as the downstream economic consequences of the lockdown measures needed to contain it.
A less remarked development, however, has been the changes to everyday life that have resulted from the contagion. In particular, a new report reveals the extent to which COVID-19 has driven a dramatic uptake of digital technologies across Southeast Asia, accelerating a profound shift that was already underway.
The e-Conomy SEA 2020 report, jointly compiled by Google, Singapore’s Temasek and the venture capital firm Bain & Company, focused on Southeast Asia’s six largest economies: Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam.
The report’s most interesting finding concerns the impact of COVID-19 in speeding the region’s uptake of digital platforms and technologies.
The report reveals that 40 million people in these six nations came online for the first time in 2020, bringing the total number of Internet users in the region to 400 million, up from 250 million in 2015. The represents around 70 percent of the 580 million people living in these countries. At the same time, the size of the region’s internet economy this year exceeded $100 billion for the first time, and if current trends hold, is set to triple to more than $300 billion by 2025.