Digital adoption: is Asia really ahead?

by bold-lichterman

In 2015, 3.35 billion people were connected to the Internet worldwide. This figure is expected to double by 2020, reaching 7.6 billion people connected according to the study “Advancing Digital Societies in Asia», Produced by GSMA published at the end of April, which studied the impact of digital in Asia and in the world. However, of these 3.35 billion, Asia would represent 48% of connections … according to an online measurement.

First observation, Asia is on the front line to develop new uses. 62% of the population has a mobile connection there, 11% has a fixed connection: the mobile is therefore the first mode of connection to the Internet. Asia is often thought to be ahead of Europe on this issue. What is it really?

The authors of the study studied the level of digital adoption in seven Asian countries (Australia, Japan, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Pakistan), in three main areas: citizenship, mode of life and commerce.

They classified them into three main categories, according to their stage of digitization: countries advances (Australia, Japan and Singapore), countries in transition (Thailand and Indonesia), and countries emerging (Bangladesh and Pakistan). The study thus reveals unsuspected potential in certain countries, such as Indonesia, where the young and particularly technophile population is pushing for the use of digital.

Less than 30% of the population has mobile Internet access in “emerging” countries

If we look in more detail, we see that nearly 75% of the population of “advanced” countries have a mobile connection. This figure falls below 30% in “emerging” countries.

gsma-connections-mobileThe analysis of the score attributed by the authors of the study to the different countries according to connectivity shows that the “advanced” countries are twice as connected as the “emerging” countries, with an average score of 74.

The digitization of citizenship, a source of efficiency gains

If we consider the scores attributed to the authors of the study in terms of digital citizenship, we see that the “transition” countries and the “emerging” countries have equivalent scores (around 60). Advanced countries, for their part, have a score of over 80.

gsma-digital-citizenshipFor example, in Australia, 40% of transactions between the population and federal or government agencies were made face to face or by telephone in 2015. If this figure decreases by 20% by 2025, the gains efficiency and additional revenues are estimated at 132.3 billion dollars for the government according to the authors of the study. The benefits linked to the digital transformation of society could thus bring in four times more than the costs it entails.

By comparison, in South Korea, one of the most advanced countries on the subject, 90% of public procedures can be done online in 2015. The online services set up by the government have made it possible to eliminate 70% of documentation requests.

Very unequal access to a digital way of life

The study reveals strong disparities between the different countries in terms of access to technology (smartphones, tablets, connected objects) and to relevant content. By way of comparison, in Thailand (a country “in transition”) inhabitants have three times more access to digital technologies and relevant content than in Pakistan (“emerging” country), and half as much as in Australia ( “advanced” country).

gsma-digital-lifestyleOther indicator of the level of digitization of a company according to the authors of the study: the use made of social networks. In 2014, more tweets were sent from Jakarta (the capital of Indonesia) than from any other city in the world, proof of the population’s attraction to new technologies.

The impact of e-commerce remains limited on the GDP of Asian economies

Finally, also in terms of e-commerce, disparities exist between countries. Unlike the other indicators studied, it will be noted that within the same category of country the results are not homogeneous. Within the group of “advanced” countries, the scores thus vary from 45 to 70.

gsma-digital-commerceIn Australia, the country with the highest score, the potential of e-commerce is estimated at $ 50 billion at the end of 2016, which represents 3.3% of the country’s GDP. In Singapore, $ 3 billion in revenue was generated by e-commerce in 2015 (or 1% of the country’s GDP). Note that in Japan, mobile is on the rise, with 49% of transactions carried out in m-commerce in 2015.

Conversely in Indonesia, the country with the lowest score, the potential of e-commerce is estimated at 130 billion dollars by 2017 (against 18 billion in 2015), according to the Ministry of Information and Communication, which declared that it was completely opening up this sector to foreign investment.

With more than 5% of the population using the Internet to shop, it is one of the countries that is developing the most in this area according to the authors of the study.

** Methodology: GSMA, a network that brings together nearly 800 mobile operators around the world, used public data from the United Nations and the World Bank, as well as internal data to carry out its study. More than 50 indicators have been established to determine a digital digital score, as well as a score in terms of digital citizenship, digital lifestyle, and e-commerce, for seven Asian countries (Australia, Japan, Singapore, Thailand , Indonesia, Bangladesh and Pakistan).
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