Thais embracing cashless society as internet economy grows

People in Thailand are among the readiest in the world to welcome a cashless society, according to an international survey released last week by Line Corporation, while Singapore’s Temasek Corporation and Google forecast rapid growth in Thailand’s internet economy through 2025.

Line Corporation said that 57 percent of Thai respondents said they were excited about or looking forward to the prospect of going cash-free, well above the survey’s average of 37 percent across all of its countries. The survey covered 5,000 smartphone users in seven major markets: The United States, United Kingdom, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Japan, and Indonesia.

The results signal a positive trend for Thailand, where the government is promoting digital literacy, innovation, and a cashless society as part of its Thailand 4.0 national strategy to achieve advanced development. The government has been aggressively working to ensure all of Thailand’s 77,000-plus villages have access to broadband internet.

Line said, however, that the results are also promising for developers and proponents of fintech, or financial technology, as they demonstrated that many consumers are hungry for a cashless future. The challenges to broader adoption of fintech, Line concluded, was low awareness among consumers and limited access to fintech products.

Respondents in the seven markets each had different interests and concerns, but Line said that Thailand, Taiwan, and Indonesia all stood out as being enthusiastic about a digital financial future. Consumers in those markets are also more willing to access fintech products and services through smartphones.

The findings are similar to other surveys that have indicated that consumers in markets with lower credit card penetration rates tend to be more willing to adopt mobile fintech and cashless options because they have had fewer options in the past.

The findings are also in line with a study released last week by Google and Temasek Corporation that forecast that Thailand’s internet economy will be worth $43 billion in 2025. That would represent robust growth over the next seven years, as the Kingdom’s internet economy has been estimated at $12.2 billion this year.

The study reported that Thailand’s e-commerce in 2018 would be worth $3 billion. Online media, which includes advertising gaming and music video subscriptions, is estimated to be $2.4 billion. That market segment is growing at an impressive rate of 44 percent a year.

The online travel sector was the best performer, estimated at $6.1 billion in 2018 and is forecast to reach $20 billion in 2025 at a growth rate of 18 percent a year.