The Digital Landscape in Thailand

Mar 2021

  • The Thai internet economy has grown at a 29% annualized rate from 2015 to 2019, reaching a value of USD 16 billion, representing the second-largest market in South East Asia. It is expected that this value will increase to USD 50 billion by 2025.
  • As of January 2020, there were 52 million internet users in Thailand. The country has an internet penetration rate and a social medial penetration rate of 75%. The number of mobile connections is 93.4 million, equivalent to 134% of the total population. It is estimated that the average Thai spends nine hours a day connected to the internet.
  • The ICT industry has developed on the back of the country’s excellence for electronic manufacturing. For example, Thailand is the largest exporter of computers in the region.
  • According to a 2018 study by United Overseas Bank, EY and Dun & Bradstreet, Thailand’s SMEs are the most active in South East Asia in terms of investment in technology. 73% of Thai SMEs put technology as their top priority, above investments such as machinery or factory equipment. Thai SME’s top choices include software for mobile applications and digital marketing.
  • Unlike most other ASEAN countries, Thais are generally well banked with good access to personal accounts. Remarkably, Thailand tops the global ranking for internet banking access. Thailand is set to kick off cross-border digital payments in South East Asia, with payments between Thailand and Singapore and Cambodia expected to begin by mid-2020. Moreover, in June 2020, the Bank of Thailand launched a digital currency pilot project.
  • Thailand has not imposed yet a digital tax on the earnings of foreign companies. However, in June 2020, it drafted a bill that requires foreign digital service providers to pay a 7% VAT.
  • Thailand’s online travel sector ranks among the biggest in the region, valued at USD 7 billion in 2019 and growing at a brisk 17% annualized growth rate. Online media has also been expanding rapidly at 39% CAGR since 2015, buoyed by high levels of engagement on social media and video platforms among the Thais.
  • A key initiative in Thailand is the Digital Park Thailand, a flagship project with an investment of USD 160 million, which seeks to attract more than 100,000 digital ecosystem developers in areas such edutainment, drones, robots, and e-sports. When completed in 2021, it will have an area of 160,000 m2, hosting an IoT Institute and offering incentives to international investors.
  • A key player in the sector is the Digital Council of Thailand (DCT). In October 2019, DCT announced that it is working with the Federation of Thai Industries to turn the country into a digital innovation hub in ASEAN through the development of data centers and AI capability.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted Thailand’s major telecom operators to speed up deployment of 5G technologies, making Thailand the first country in ASEAN to have commercial 5G services.
  • The availability of 5G services combined with the effects of COVID-19 is predicted to act as a boost for the country’s thriving e-commerce industry. Alibaba, which set up its distribution center in the free-trade zone of the Eastern Economic Corridor, where products can be kept without paying import tax, is expected to be one of the key winners.

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