Thailand’s internet economy ranked no.2 in SEA

E-commerce and online media push Thailand’s internet economy to rank the second largest in Southeast Asia, worth US$12 billion (394 billion baht) in 2018, just behind Indonesia.

The internet economy currently only accounts for 2.7% of national GDP, which is much lower than other countries like China and the U.S. As impressive as current developments in Thailand’s internet economy are, there is a huge opportunity for accelerated growth, said Ben King, country director of Google Thailand, citing the latest report Google-Temasek on e-Conomy Southeast Asia 2018.

Thailand’s internet users increased from 38 million in 2015 to over 45 million today, with 90% accessing the internet via mobile devices. Thais are the most online-engaged users in the world, at 4.2 hours per day, he said.

Thailand’s internet economy totalled $6 billion in 2015 and is expected to reach $43 billion by 2025, said the survey.

The report covers four sectors — e-commerce, online media, ride-hailing and online travel — for six countries for Southeast Asia.

E-commerce and online media are two high-growth sectors for Thailand’s internet economy. Ride-hailing and online travel show steady growth, as the ride-hailing market has seen consolidation and online travel has a large value base.

Thailand’s business-to-consumer e-commerce is Southeast Asia’s second-largest market, worth $3 billion, with Indonesia at the top. The market has tripled growth from $900 million in 2015 and is expected to reach $13 billion in 2025.

E-commerce firms are shifting to become national players and earn more profit in 2018. The market is heavily focused on acquiring customers. In Southeast Asia, Lazada, Shopee, and Tokopedia are among top three players. The top two in Thailand are the same, with JD Central third.

Online media (gaming, paid video, music on-demand, and digital advertising) are also growing rapidly, worth $2.4 billion in 2018 and expected to reach $7 billion in 2025.

Ride-hailing in Thailand is projected to reach $700 million in 2018, growing by 22% from 2015, and hitting $4 billion by 2025. Market consolidation enables service providers to profit more and focus on financial service. But competition should intensify after Go-Jek from Indonesia becomes fully operational.

Mr King said online travel was the largest segment, a mature market worth $6 billion in 2018.

“There is no major challenge in Southeast Asia this year as fundraising is rising, internet users are growing, and companies are focusing on brand loyalty rather than customer acquisition,” he said. “Some $9.1 billion was raised in the first half of this year, nearly as much as all of 2017.”

Since 2015, $24 billion was raised through 2,400 internet economy deals in the region, of which $16 billion funded nine startups that became unicorns: Grab, Lazada, Traveloka, Sea, Razer, Tokopedia, Bukalapak, VNG and GoJek.

The study also forecasts that the employment of skilled workforce will increase from 100,000 in 2015 to be 200,000 people in 2025. The employment of skilled workforce is 10% growth, higher than general employment which is only 3%, and 3-5 times wage higher.