The Platform Economy: Southeast Asia’s Digital Growth Catalyst

The Institute’s inaugural study presents data-based insights and public-private perspectives on how to support the Platform Economy’s growth in Southeast Asia while mitigating its risks, and sets the stage for further discussions and topical deep-dives.

Platforms have transformed how we work, play and create economic value in Southeast Asia. Many of the leading home-grown technology platforms in Southeast Asia are online-to-offline (O2O) in nature, requiring both physical and digital infrastructure to function. This is due to the need for platforms to invest and build these infrastructure themselves in order to grow and expand their business, given the development challenges of Southeast Asia.

The O2O Platform Economy has become a frequent topic of discussion across policy areas, including its role in the digitalisation of the economy, labour and employment, competition, consumer protection and privacy, among other topics. Given the fast-evolving nature of the Platform Economy, it is more complex that it appears on the surface.

To support constructive and balanced policy discussions around Platforms and the Platform Economy in Southeast Asia, the Tech for Good Institute commissioned this report as its first publication. It provides a broad introduction to the Platform Economy in Southeast Asia and sets the stage for further work including deep dives into the issues and challenges in making the Platform Economy work for all. 

Key Insights
1. Platforms have actively contributed to socioeconomic development in Southeast Asia.

Platforms have invested in and contributed to Southeast Asia’s digital economy by developing critical physical and digital infrastructure, and providing access and convenience to consumers and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

2. Platforms offer a broad range of benefits at scale to consumers and MSMEs in Southeast Asia. 

Consumers enjoy better access, affordability and financial inclusion when using Platforms. MSMEs can expand their customer reach through Platforms while bolstering their resilience and maintaining business continuity during the COVID-19 pandemic.

3. As with any new technology or innovation, countries need to manage challenges and risks in the Platform Economy.
Challenges and risks to consider include issues related to competition, consumer protection, changes in the labour market, and a growing digital divide. As the region develops policy and socio-economic initiatives on this topic, it is important for countries to evaluate the potential tradeoffs and take into account the current stage of development of the Platform Economy.
4. Southeast Asia should chart its own course to maximize benefits while managing the challenges of the Platform Economy.
It is not easy to find the right balance in regulations. Many, if not all, advanced nations are still exploring options to get it right, and Southeast Asia is no different. The report proposes a set of four key priorities for Southeast Asia to write a new playbook to steer the Platform Economy to be a powerful force for stronger and more inclusive development in Southeast Asia. 

What is the role of digital platforms in Southeast Asia?

Southeast Asia's opportunity: Converging online and offline worlds

Navigating the challenges of the Platform Economy together

Key Partners:

Contributing partners:

World Economic Forum, Ant Group, Capgemini, Carro, FinAccel / Kredivo, FPT Software, Futurise, Insignia Ventures, Kaodim, Klook, LinkAja, Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation, Microsoft, Ministry of Communications and Information, Singapore, Ministry of Entrepreneurship Development and Cooperatives, Malaysia, Ministry of Information & Communications, Vietnam, MUFG Bank, OVO (PT Visionet Internasional),  PayPal, Recommend Group / Sejasa, Singtel, Stripe, Wise.

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Dr Ming Tan

Founding Executive Director

Dr Ming Tan is founding Executive Director for the Tech for Good Institute. She is concurrently a Senior Fellow at the Centre for Governance and Sustainability at the National University of Singapore. Her research interests lie at the intersection of technology, business and society, including sustainability and innovation.

 

Ming was previously Managing Director of IPOS International, part of the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore, which supports Singapore’s future growth as a global innovation hub for intellectual property creation, commercialisation and management.

 

Prior to joining the public sector, she was Head of Stewardship of the COMO Group, a Singaporean portfolio of lifestyle companies operating in 14 countries worldwide. Her portfolio covered sustainability, brand and data privacy. She was concurrently the founding Executive Director of COMO Foundation, the private philanthropy of the owner of the COMO Group.

 

As a company director, she lends brand and strategic guidance to SuperNature Pte Ltd, COMO Hotels and Resorts (Asia) Pte Ltd, COMO Club Pte Ltd, and Mogems Pte Ltd. In the not-for-profit space, Ming is an Advisor to Singapore Totalisator Board and serves on the boards of Esplanade–Theatres on the Bay, Singapore’s national performing arts centre, St. Joseph’s Institution International and COMO Foundation.

 

As part of her commitment to holistic education and the arts, she also sits on the Advisory Panel of the Centre for the Arts of the National University of Singapore.

 

Ming was educated in Singapore, the United States, and England. She obtained her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Stanford University and her doctorate from Oxford.