Digital Payments Bring to South East Asia Tremendous Benefits

Diep Nguyen

09:27 08/06/2019

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The region has a unique opportunity to achieve even faster progress by reinforcing the foundations of its growing digital economy.

Digital Payments Bring to South East Asia Tremendous Benefits

Photo Courtesy: Nikkei

While the digital revolution has already brought many benefits to Southeast Asia, the region has a unique opportunity to achieve even faster progress by reinforcing the foundations of its growing digital economy. 
To realize this vision, a new World Bank report,The Digital Economy in Southeast Asia – Strengthening the Foundations for Future Growth,analyzes the opportunities and challenges facing the region to scale up digital development, and for ensuring the economic and social dividends of technology can reach everyone.
“Every sector of the economy in ASEAN countries can do more to use digital technologies and smarter business models. To help our private sectors governments also need to transform themselves: to use technologies such as data analytics and intelligent systems, develop our digital platforms and harmonize our approaches to regulatory procedures particular for cybersecurity, digital identity, and data management. We should work towards a regional digital market,” said H.E. Dr. PichetDurongkaveroj, Minister of Digital Economy and Society.
“Southeast Asian countries has made significant headway in the digital sector,” said Boutheina Guermazi, the World Bank’s Director for Digital Development. “But even though the population has embraced digital services, adoption by businesses and governments has generally been slower. Regulatory bottlenecks and a lack of trust in electronic transactions stifle the growth of digital systems. This groundbreaking research can help ASEAN countries overcome these challenges to create strong, inclusive digital economies.”
The report identifies six main areas of focusfor digital development in Southeast Asia, starting with the expansion of connectivity, the backbone of the digital economy. Although half of the region’s population uses the internet—on par with the global average—this can continue to be expanded with policies and actions that will significantly lower prices, increase speeds, and bring reliable broadband internet to underserved areas.
In middle income countries in this region only 2 out of 5 people have access to high speed (4G) mobile internet—in lower income countries it’s only 1 out of 5.  Active collaboration between the public and private sectors and proactive regulatory approaches will be critical to unlocking the needed investments in digital infrastructure and fostering greater competition across the telecommunications sector.

DIEP NGUYEN

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