Crossing Frontiers: Navigating the Evolving Terrain of e-commerce in Southeast Asia

  • Guillaume Tournand, VP of Growth at Worldline

  • 29.04.2024 04:00 pm
  • #payments #technology #ecommerce

E-commerce is crucial for businesses of all sizes, from local stores to global corporations, especially in Southeast Asia—a region ripe with opportunities due to its young demographic and supportive digital policies. Understanding current trends is vital for companies aiming to enter this market and, in order to succeed, businesses must align their strategies with the region's evolving online shopping behaviors.

Innovations in Technology

Southeast Asia's digital payment scene is rapidly evolving, driven by socio-economic factors and a tech-savvy younger population. The widespread use of smartphones which is expected to reach 344.4 million by 2024, and improved internet infrastructure are making digital services widely available. This, along with a rising middle class, is fuelling a surge in digital transactions and sparking international interest in the region.

Expanded Payment Ecosystems

In Southeast Asia, key payment methods include credit/debit cards, local payments, cash, and mobile payments, with cash usage expected to plateau despite its popularity in Thailand and Cambodia. The region is witnessing a surge in social commerce, notably on TikTok, where integrating shopping into active user environments boosts e-commerce. Additionally, mobile technology advancements, such as PromptPay, enable instant, transfers via mobile numbers. This has led to significant growth in cross-border transactions, with Thailand and Singapore processing over 65,000 such transactions by mid-2022.

Thailand's Digital Commerce

Thailand is a key player in Southeast Asia's digital economy, holding the position of having the second-largest digital market in the region after Indonesia. Thailand’s e-commerce is composed of predominantly young users, with cross-border payments making up to 30% of activity.  Major platforms like Shopee, Lazada, and Jib, support this activity through advanced logistics. Furthermore, Thailand's push towards a cashless society is evident through the national e-payment scheme initiated in 2017, with PromptPay playing a crucial role in promoting digital payments by allowing transfers and payments via mobile or citizen ID.

Southeast Asia presents a rich opportunity for e-commerce growth, thanks to its young population, technological progress, and supportive policies. Thailand's booming digital market highlights the region's potential for future e-commerce expansion, making it an enticing area for investment. 


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