With the world digitising at an unprecedented rate and emerging markets vying for the attention of foreign investors, Thailand’s success in this regard will depend on how well it is able to build its digital capabilities. The internet economy will certainly be an important generator of future growth, and as such, it is important to consider the progress Thailand is making on this front. Metrics of this are as follows:
Internet Penetration Rate––As of 2020, Thailand had an internet penetration rate of nearly 75%. The number of internet users in Thailand increased by 3.4 million (+7.4%) between 2020 and 2021. Even though this puts Thailand ahead of some emerging markets in the region, such as Cambodia and Indonesia, it still leaves sufficient room for improvement. As can be seen in chart 1 below, Thailand’s internet penetration rate is considerably behind that of Vietnam’s and significantly short of the rates prevailing in the most talked about Asian economies of Singapore and Hong Kong. Chart 2, however, speaks to the consistent rise in internet usage that is taking place in Thailand. If this trend continues Thailand could become a force to reckon with in the digital space.
Internet Economy size – Thailand’s internet economy is projected to have a Gross Market Value of US$ 53 billion by 2025.There are four segments to the internet economy:
– Online Travel
– Online Media
– Ride Hailing
With its expectation surpassing GMV, Thailand’s digital economy is the second largest in ASEAN. As the graph below depicts, Thailand’s internet economy is expected to more than triple in size by the year 2025, reaching a mammoth GMV of US$ 50 billion. This makes the Thai digital space ripe for foreign investment.
Growth over time – Thailand’s internet economy has exhibited tremendous growth since 2015, witnessing an increase of 175% in Gross Market Value. As shown in the graph below, this increase was achieved in just four years and the trend can be expected to continue as an increasing proportion of Thailand’s receives access to the internet
From an investment perspective, however, it is imperative to analyze which segments of the Thai digital space have performed the best. The performance of each individual sector is shown in the chart below along with the projected GMV of each in the year 2025. Unsurprisingly, Thailand – one of the prime tourism hotspots of the world – experiences a lot of activity in the Online Travel sector. This sector is the Thai internet economy’s largest segment and is expected to remain so as it grows to US$ 20 billion by the year 2025. The E-commerce sector, expected to grow by 260%, will follow as a close second while Ride Hailing and Online Media, despite substantial growth, will be relatively smaller.
Major players in the digital space– Despite significant growth the Thai internet economy is yet to produce its first unicorn. However, Thailand is home to several promising start-ups that could go toe-to-toe with regional giants like Grab and Gojek in the near future. Some of them are listed below:
Total Funding (as of 2017) – US$ 108.3 million
Sector – E-commerce
Business outline – aCommerce offers end-to-end e-commerce solutions for retailers, brands, and manufacturers in Southeast Asia by providing flexible solutions, detailed processes and operations, innovative technology, performance-based marketing, and most importantly a deep passion for fixing hard problems.
Total Funding (as of 2017) – US$ 45.4 million
Sector – Fintech
Business outline –Omise is an online payment system for online businesses, offering features like optimized checkout, flexible payment options, automated workflow and social assistance.
Total Funding (as of 2017) – US$ 31.6 million
Sector – E-commerce
Business outline –Launched in 2013, Pomelo is an omni-channel fashion brand born in Asia with a global mindset: on-trend, online, on-the-go. Pomelo currently ships to over 40 countries across the globe, and also operates brick and mortar stores in Thailand and Singapore.
Total Funding (as of 2017) – US$ 550,000
Sector – Search Engine
Business outline –Wongnai, Thailand’s leading super-lifestyle platform, connects people to all things good through its comprehensive content and users’ reviews on restaurants, recipes, beauty, and travels. At present Wongnai serves more than 10 million monthly active users and owns the largest restaurant database in Thailand.
Total Funding (as of 2017) – Undisclosed
Sector – Telecommunication
Business outline –mu Space Corp delivers reliable satellite-based broadband, mobile and broadcasting solutions for telcos and businesses in Thailand, offering services that are covered across Asia-Pacific by launching into space a high throughput and low latency geosynchronous earth orbit satellite.