Singapore, Thailand Love Instagram, eCommerce

Southeast Asia, including Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia, with its population of over 620 million, is predicted to be the next site of an eCommerce boom.

The region’s internet economy is projected to become a $278 billion market by 2025, with immense growth expected in all online sectors, but especially in mobile payments as companies across the region invest more in digital infrastructure.

The region’s most technologically advanced nation, Singapore, is working toward a smart nation. The country had a mobile penetration rate of 148 percent in 2014. Thailand and Indonesia are also seeing rapid online mobile infrastructure growth and adoption. In total, Southeast Asia currently has about 150 million digital customers.

Currently, about 30 percent of all online sales in Southeast Asia in 2016 occurred through social networks, like Facebook, Instagram and Line (Naver Corp.’s messaging and video app), according to estimates by Bain & Co. Additionally, 80 percent of shoppers in Southeast Asia used social media to research items and contact sellers.

Facebook and Line have reportedly launched additional shopping features — including custom stickers facilitate interactions between buyers and sellers on the platform in Thailand — specifically for the Southeast Asian market, said the Wall Street Journal.

Compare that to just 7 percent of the roughly 287 million internet users using social media for purchases in the U.S., says market research firm GlobalWebIndex. Facebook has been having a tough time overcoming entrenched consumer behavior in the States for a while now.

For example, in markets where tap-and-pay with physical credit cards has been popular for years, 40 percent still do not pay with their smartphones, and 25 percent forget that they can use their smartphone — the same behavior likely applies when companies like Facebook roll out social media purchasing options.

However, the same cannot be said for regions with newer online markets and therefore less entrenched online consumer behavior, like Southeast Asia. Facebook doesn’t disclose how much revenue it generates from online shopping but notes that Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines are among the top 10 markets where its Shop feature is used.