Around 25 years ago, Southeast Asia had barely anything in the way of internet capabilities. In some areas, such as internet domain growth rate, the region was considered less developed than Africa.
However, it’s an entirely different story today, as Southeast Asia is experiencing massive growth in the digital space.
According to a report by Google, 40 million people came online for the first time in 2021, bringing the total number of internet users in Southeast Asia to 440 million, roughly 75% of its entire population.
Much of this could be attributed to Covid-19. According to the same report, there have been a total of 60 million new digital consumers since the start of the pandemic. What’s more, among the users who joined the digital economy in the first half of 2021, 60% of them came from non-metropolitan areas, which surpasses the 54% figure from March to December the previous year. With these rapid developments, the region’s digital economy is now on track to cross US$360 billion in gross merchandise value by 2025.
What this means for digital companies like Google is that Southeast Asians aren’t just increasingly engaging with digital services, but they are also leading Asia Pacific in several new consumer behavior trends, says Stephanie Davis, vice president of Google Southeast Asia.
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