Amidst a global shift toward digital spaces due to circumstances presented by the persisting pandemic, Southeast Asian countries are looking to capitalize on the boom of technological innovation.
According to a Google industry report, Southeast Asia registered an estimated 400 million internet users in 2020 alone, which implies that 70% of the region is now online. Further, the same report concluded that by 2025, internet economies’ gross merchandise value (GMV) in Southeast Asia is forecasted to triple to 309 billion USD; a figure which eclipses the previously predicted value of 300 billion USD.
Potential for Further Development
These trends are positive indications for Southeast Asia, but obstacles do remain. Considering the nature of technology and the looming possibility of cyber threats, cybersecurity is a major concern in Southeast Asia. As reported by Tech Wire Asia, each Southeast Asian business that is exposed to security breaches stands to lose 2.71 million USD per instance.
Despite potential threats of cybersecurity, several start-ups across the region have found great success. Some examples within Southeast Asia include e-commerce sites Shopee and Lazada, as well as transportation services Grab and GoTo. While these companies have succeeded individually, future enterprises also stand to benefit as tech development within the region is further elevated because of their accomplishments. Not only will their models influence coming businesses, but investor confidence generated from their success will also encourage an influx of business in the region.
Securing the Future
While signs of adversity may eventually emerge, as reported by CNBC, the region’s advocacy of digitally transforming societies and businesses alike is spearheaded by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which is a 10-member economic union. These governments’ significant commitment to fostering technological innovation is a positive sign for all countries involved.
Member organizations of the ASEAN have also vigilantly taken on the challenge of addressing specific issues related to the region’s digital innovation, specifically, the concerns of cybersecurity. In 2019, as per The Straits Times, Singapore launched a 30 million USD, five-year collaborative project entitled the ASEAN-Singapore Cybersecurity Centre of Excellence (ASCCE).
Similarly, The Asia Foundation and the ASEAN Coordinating Committee on Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (ACCMSME) launched an initiative in 2020 called “Go Digital ASEAN,” which aims to equip small businesses in rural areas with the necessary skills and tools to succeed in the digital world.
Given the effort of proponents all throughout Southeast Asia, the majority of the current digital trends indicate a positive outcome for the region’s desired digital growth and transformation. Driven by promising results thus far, the region’s goal of becoming a hub for business and tech development is a worthwhile venture.
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