Southeast Asia Mobile Internet Usage Increasing Dramatically

The accessibility of affordable smart phone technology in Southeast Asia has given rise to mobile internet consumption unmatched by even western countries where the technology has been enjoyed for a significantly greater length of time. Mobile internet data traffic is expected to almost triple in the next three years as there are still an enormous number of people unconnected. In this day and age, consumers have more computing power in their pocket than the entirety of NASA in 1969.

The evolution of quality smart phones has shifted internet usage massively towards mobiles. For Southeast Asian internet consumers, computers were never an accessory in everyone’s home so smart phones have acted as a introduction to the online world. This article explores the extraordinary rise of mobile internet usage in Southeast Asia, and some amazing future figure predictions.

Google and Temasek report

A 2017 report by Google and Temasek found that only 51% of Southeast Asian consumers are active mobile internet users revealing a giant space for market growth in the densely populated region. The report predicted Southeast Asia’s internet economy to surpass $50 billion, significantly exceeding earlier estimates, and went as far to predict an economy of four times that value by 2025.

The Google and Temasek report focused on the six largest markets in the region — Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore, exposing some very interesting statistics:

Southeast Asia and their appetite for mobile internet (Source: Google and Temasek)

As evident in the table above, mobile internet users in Southeast Asia spend considerably more time doing so than their Western and East-Asian counterparts. The largest consumers come from Indonesia, 3.9 hours, and Thailand, a whopping 4.2 hours everyday.

Some of the most remarkable statistics are in the growth. Internet usage rose 21% in two years between 2015 and 2017 propelling the region to the third-largest market in the world when it comes to number of users. Also, around 90% of Southeast Asia’s internet users are smart phone users.

We Are Social report

In January 2018, We Are Social published a report describing worldwide trends in digital activity. As shown in the figure below, there are still millions of people yet to connect online through their mobile devices in the six biggest economies in Southeast Asia, known as ASEAN:

Digital populations of Southeast Asia’s Big 6 known as ASEAN (Source: aseanup.com)

M-commerce penetration can be defined as the percentage of a population who have made an online purchase using their mobile phone within a given time period. European countries dominate the highest penetration percentages with Thailand leading Southeast Asia at 52%, similar to many of these countries. The figure below shows m-commerce penetration rates for all ASEAN countries in 2018:

Thailand have really adopted online purchasing via mobile. Still much room for growth elsewhere (Source: We Are Social Report 2018)

The land of opportunity

With still a largely untapped population, Southeast Asia is a dream investment region for technology companies, especially when it comes to mobile apps. It’s hardly a surprise that Google and Facebook have already identified that section of the world as a crucial place to build on their user bases. Google, in the creation of apps, and Facebook, with their Internet.org initiative, are aiding in the process of getting new customers online.

The continued growth of mobile internet usage will attract many more businesses online giving even more incentive for those left unconnected to join the crowd. Marketing and technology companies especially will benefit allowing every day people access to goods and services previously out of reach. Now more and more consumers are ordering food, buying groceries, buying clothes, and booking a ride using their smart phones. The demand for effective and convenient apps is only increasing and Southeast Asia seem to embrace this technology more than almost anywhere else on the globe.

A blockchain future

In 2018, it’s not easy to find someone who hasn’t heard of Bitcoin, but the technology behind it is not so well-known. You can read more about blockchain here.

This new revolutionary technology is the future of storing and sharing information, as well as completing transactions. The proclivity of Southeast Asian citizens to rapidly adopt new technology, and the number of new start-ups providing blockchain solutions in the region such as FinanceX, suggests huge economic potential for technology companies based here in the future.

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