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Google study sees $240 billion Southeast Asia internet economy by 2025

21 November 2018

This figure greatly surpasses the forecast from 2016, which predicted that the region's internet economy would reach US$200 by 2025.

The main difference between this year's report and the previous ones is that this time Google and Temasek have included sectors of the internet economy which had not been covered before, namely online travel, online media and ride hailing - all three sectors which have achieved substantial adoption among ASEAN region users and consequently resulting in significant business size and growth.

According to the 33 page report, there has been an increase of 90 million internet users since 2015 across ASEAN-5 countries (Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand) plus Vietnam, bringing it to a total of 350 million.

According to Google and Temasek's report, the ride-hailing sector has attracted over US$10 billion worth of investments in the last three years.

It added that 2018 was on track to be a record year for fundraising for the region's internet economy companies, with Dollars 9.1 billion raised in the first half of the year, almost as much as in all of 2017.

When asked if anti-competition laws and tighter regulations could make it harder for new companies to compete with existing unicorns, and stifle their growth, Rajan Anandan, managing director for Google Southeast Asia and India does not think so.

The study "does not include other sectors of the internet economy that are still in the early stages of development or lack reliable data sources, such as Education, Financial Services, Healthcare, and Social Commerce", it said.

Indonesia's Internet economy, the largest and the fastest-growing in the region, reached US$27 billion this year and is poised to grow to US$100 billion by 2025, it added.

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The growth is being boosted by the world's most engaged internet users, of whom more than 90 per cent connect to the web through their smartphones, it said.

Whilst unicorns captured most of the capital attention, the overall startup ecosystem benefitted from growing investor appetites, the Google-Temasek research added.

The Internet economy is set to create 1.7 million full-time posts by 2025 for skilled professionals as well as flexible jobs in sectors like ride hailing with Singapore taking a "disproportionate share", said Mr Rohit Sipahimalani, joint head of the Investment Group at Temasek. It is expected to exceed US$100 billion by 2025.

Indonesia is leading the way to ecommerce in Southeast Asia, reaching US$12 billion in 2018 and accounting for more than US$1 in every US$2 spent in the region.

The internet economy in Southeast Asia has also experienced dramatic growth in fundraising over the past four years. "And Southeast Asian tech companies have already raised half of the $40-$50bn in funds we expected them to attract". In 2018, the trend continued in an exponential fashion with US$9.1 billion being raised within the first half of the year alone.

The achievement was driven primarily by the boom of e-commerce in the region, particularly by the performance of Lazada, Shopee, and Tokopedia which are homegrown in the region.

These areas were: internet infrastructure, ability to secure funding, building consumer trust, developing logistics to handle e-commerce, ability to attain talent, and viable digital payment solutions.

Google study sees $240 billion Southeast Asia internet economy by 2025