Digitalisation in Thailand


last updated on 24 August 2022 | reading time approx. 3 minutes

Interview with Philip Ende and Martin Chrometzka

Digitisation is a cross-sector and cross-society issue. How do you assess the current situation in Thailand? Which sectors already hit the road to success, and which are rather lagging behind?

Digitalisation in Thailand is driven by the private sector, especially in tourism, retail, payment services and other services such as food delivery (e.g. Foodpanda) and transport (e.g. Grab).

Government agencies are also increasingly offering digital services. In many cases, applications can only be submitted online. On the other hand, especially up-country, many services retain the need for paper. Overall, the paperless office is still far in the future.

The pandemic has actually helped digitalisation in business. Even small companies are investing in digital infrastructure to allow for work from home and similar arrangements.

In the area of digital assets and cryptocurrencies, Thailand is trying to establish itself as a strong player in Southeast Asia, with Singapore still leading the way.

Where do you see potential for German or European companies in Thailand?

For German medium-sized companies, we see opportunities above all in the area of automation and corresponding digitization. Thailand is one of the largest investment locations in Southeast Asia, especially in the area of manufacturing. German know-how and engineering enjoy an excellent reputation.

Start-ups in digital industries can also be successful, especially if the investment is supported by the Board of Investment, ideally in one of the digital clusters in the Eastern Economic Corridor (the provinces of Chachoengsao, Chonburi and Rayong southeast of Bangkok).

Digitisation always raises questions about issues such as cybersecurity, data protection and the creation of new rules and standards for the digital economy. What are your experiences in Thailand? Are there already laws or regulations that specifically regulate these issues, providing safety for companies?

The Personal Data Protection Act has been in force since 2022. The law has been modeled after European data protection. Nevertheless, public awareness of data protection is only just emerging.

Digital standards have been set in particular through regulations on digital assets. Thailand was one of the first countries to comprehensively regulate digital services (trading, initial coin offerings, etc.). Here we see agile movements of regulators in Thailand to keep the location attractive.

Cybersecurity is an issue across Southeast Asia, as local standards are not comparable to European standards. Companies need to invest in digital security and in employee training and awareness in Thailand to avoid issues.

To what extent did the Covid-19 pandemic have an impact on the developments since its beginning?

The pandemic has boosted digitization in Thailand. Cashless payment via mobile application has increased significantly. Even in the judiciary, notoriously slow and adverse to digitization, it has been made possible to hold hearings via electronic means. Likewise, holding shareholders' and directors' meetings electronically has been regulated and permitted.

In which sectors do you see the greatest business opportunities for German and European companies to both, participate in the market and profitably offer their know-how?

We see good opportunities in the area of automation. The investment promotion authority in Thailand, the Board of Investment, issues subsidies for efficiency improvements in manufacturing. Thus, there is a continuous demand of efficiency improvement. In addition, German technology enjoys a very good reputation and is preferably acquired.

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