• Reuters


Southeast Asia’s internet economy was forecast to grow 39 percent this year to $100 billion as millions of people in the region went online to shop for the first time and ride-hailing firms grew in popularity, an industry report showed on Thursday.

The annual report by Google, Singapore’s state investor Temasek Holdings and global business consultants Bain & Company also lifted its forecast for the region’s growth through 2025 to $300 billion, from $240 billion previously.

The region’s online industry has more than tripled in the past four years alone as young users turn to their phones to do everything from banking, playing games and purchasing plane tickets.

“This pace of growth has exceeded all expectations,” said the 64-page report, which was first produced in 2016. “Internet access is now affordable for large segments of the population and consumer trust in digital services has improved significantly.”

More than $37 billion has been invested in Southeast Asian online companies over the last four years with the majority going into e-commerce firms like Zilingo and ride-hailing Unicorns such Grab and Gojek, the report found.

Ride-hailing alone was worth $13 billion, quadrupling in value since 2015, and it was expected to reach $40 billion by 2025 when food delivery will be worth as much as transport.

Southeast Asia’s average growth rate of 5 percent per year since 2014 puts it far ahead of the global average and makes it an attractive investment destination as the Chinese economy is hobbled by the Sino-United States trade war.

There are 360 million internet users across the countries covered in the report — Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore and the Philippines — up from 260 million four years earlier.

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