E-commerce helps to shape Asia digital future


E-commerce helps to shape Asia digital future

The rapid growth of e-commerce is shaping Asia's digital future, with more policies designed to encourage small businesses to go online, according to key speakers at an international forum on technology.

Participants on the opening day of the World Digital Economy and Technology Summit 2022, being held in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday and Wednesday, also discussed how the pandemic has led to digital transformation, pushing more people into e-commerce, digital banking, telehealth and online education.

An estimated 650 participants attended the WDET on its first day. Top policymakers, diplomats, corporate leaders, academicians, entrepreneurs, innovators, digital practitioners and digital evangelists from 28 countries attended the hybrid format event.

WDET was organized by the KSI Strategic Institute for Asia Pacific, the Economic Club of Kuala Lumpur and the Pacific Basin Economic Council, and is supported by the China Daily Asia Leadership Roundtable.

Mustapa Mohamed, Malaysia's minister in the Prime Minister's Department for Economic Affairs, and Sandiaga Uno, Indonesia's minister for tourism and creative economy, discussed how their respective countries are helping micro-, small and medium-sized enterprises, or MSMEs, embrace digital commerce and contribute to economic growth.

"The widespread use of digital technology has accelerated the pace of globalization, transformed the world economic order, and has also transformed the Malaysian economy," Mustapa said in his keynote address.

Mustapa opened WDET's morning session by noting that Southeast Asia is one of the world's fastest-growing internet markets and that "the pandemic has completely changed the digital landscape in Southeast Asia, where 14 million new internet users (were) recorded last year". He said this pushed the "momentum of digitalization to unprecedented heights".

'Quality jobs'

Sandiaga, who delivered his speech via video link, said the Indonesian government is building a digital economy to create 4.4 million "new, better quality jobs".He said only 77 percent of 60 million Indonesian MSMEs have connectivity, and less than 23 percent have access to financial capital.

N.R. Narayana Murthy, founder and chairman emeritus of one of India's biggest technology companies Infosys, said the Indian government has launched two key initiatives which have "brought digitalization to the help of everybody in general, but to the poor in particular".

Murthy said India's introduction of the digital ID system helped in extending direct subsidies to the poor. Another key initiative is the Open Network for Digital Commerce, which will be launched later this year to help small traders go online.

Charles Chang, deputy dean of academics and director of the Fintech Research Center at the Fanhai International School of Finance at Shanghai's Fudan University, said almost 90 percent of central banks around the world are developing their own digital currencies and China is taking a very aggressive role.