The Philippines demonstrated the biggest growth in the number of new internet users in Southeast Asia (SEA) during the pandemic, according to a report recently released by Google, Temasek, and Bain & Company.
The report, the sixth edition of the e-Conomy Southeast Asia (SEA) Report titled “Roaring 20s: The SEA Digital Decade,” revealed that new digital consumers in the Philippines reached 12 million since early 2020, when the pandemic first erupted, up to first half of 2021. Of the total new internet users, 63% resided in non-metro areas.
The growth is a result of the changes in consumer and merchant behavior, as well as strong investor confidence, the report added.
On the other hand, digital financial services in the Philippines also grew rapidly this year. Of the 3,000 digital merchants surveyed, about 97% now accept digital payments, while 67% have begun offering digital lending solutions. Of the total surveyed, about one-third believe they would not have survived the pandemic without digital platforms.
Overall, the digital economy reflected a 24% compounded annual growth rate and is seen to be valued at $40 billion by 2025.
In the bigger SEA region – encompassing Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia – internet users from the non-metro areas also made up most new joiners, with 99% planning to continue staying connected.
Since the pandemic began, SEA saw 60 million new digital consumers, of which 20 million joined in the first half of 2021 alone. Significant growth is still expected as only 68% of internet users in SEA use online services.