Google: Thai e-commerce to reach $37 billion in a decade

google3Driven by e-commerce and travel bookings, Thailand’s online market will reach a value of $37 billion in a decade, according to a report released last week by United States-based global internet firm Google and Singapore-based technology conglomerate Temasek, which said Thailand’s market was expanding by 9 percent a year.

“There has never been a better time to start a business in Thailand,” said Ben King, manager of Google Thailand. “Already there are great examples of Thai businesses and startups leading the way in Southeast Asia and beyond.”

The Kingdom’s affluent young and growing cyber-connected population is the force propelling this investment in cyber-businesses and expansion in value. About 57 percent of Thais have access to the internet and the country has over 85 million mobile subscribers, for a 125 percent penetration rate, through 3G and LTE connections.

The report titled e-conomy SEA: Unlocking the $200 billion opportunity in Southeast Asia said that Thailand already has 358 internet-related startup companies. To create a more conducive environment for startups, the Stock Exchange of Thailand is planning to launch a separate exchange this year solely for startups that will be more flexible on listing rules.

Along with steady and strong growth in e-commerce, the report projects that digital advertising spending will increase by 6.2 times to $4.35 billion by 2025.

Nonetheless, challenges still exist. They include logistics and connectivity, complexity of payments, market readiness, fraud and cyber-security, according to Google.

“I am confident [Thailand] can overcome the challenges,” King said.

In the area of payments, the government is preparing to roll out “PromptPay”, the country’s first major electronic payment platform during the first quarter of this year. It requires all recipients of government welfare to register with commercial banks to get the monthly allowance directly from state agencies using either a mobile phone number or an individual bank account.

Efficient, effective and secure e-payments are prerequisites for an e-commerce boom. And the introduction of the platform is expected to have the ripple effect of spurring improvements in cyber-security, aside from increasing consumer convenience and national competitiveness.

Both government agencies and the private sector, including banks, will have to step up their cyber protections and defenses for PromptPay to be successful, as there is no shortage of cyber criminals and fraudsters who will seek to crack and abuse the system.