South-East Asia online economy seen reaching RM204b in 2017

By BLOOMBERG

SINGAPORE • South-East Asia’s Internet economy, spanning online travel to ride-hailing, will reach US$50 billion (RM204 billion) this year, putting it on a solid trajectory to grow fourfold by 2025, according to a joint research report by Google Inc and Temasek Holdings Pte Ltd.

As more consumers buy airline tickets and book hotels through smartphones, the region’s online travel market expanded from US$19.1 billion in 2015 to US$26.6 billion in 2017, according to a report the two companies released yesterday. The research covered four key sectors of the Internet economy: Travel, media, ride-hailing and e-commerce.

Online shopping and ride-hailing have come into focus as Grab, Uber Technologies Inc and Go-Jek capture consumer preferences with evolving business models. Of the US$12 billion of capital invested in South-East Asian Internet companies since 2016, US$9 billion was raised by its unicorns, or startups with more than US$1 billion valuations.

The region, which includes Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia, raised just US$1 billion in 2015.

The growth is being driven by a surging number of new smartphone users. South- East Asia will have 330 million monthly active Internet users by the end of 2017 — equivalent to the size of the US population — after adding more than 70 million users since 2015.

E-commerce sales of new goods will reach US$10.9 billion in gross merchandise value in 2017, almost double their level in 2015, according to the report.

South-East Asia’s ride-hailing market, which is fiercely contested by Grab, Uber and Go-Jek, is expected to double from 2015 to US$5.1 billion in 2017, before reaching US$20.1 billion in 2025.