MANILA - The booming e-commerce industry is seen to propel the Philippine internet economy, projecting to grow 4 times more to $28 billion by 2025, a Google official told ANC's Market Edge on Friday.
Bernadette Nacario, country director of Google Philippines, said the local internet economy is also expected to reach $7.5 billion by the end of the year from $7.1 billion last year.
"Despite the GDP (gross domestic product) contraction, it is actually the digital economy that is showing growth. In the Philippines, we see 55 percent growth in e-commerce. A big chunk of this is coming from the MSMEs," Nacario said.
The country's GDP shrank for three straight quarters in the year due to slower physical economic activity during the pandemic.
Citing Google's e-Conomy Report 2020, she said the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) recorded over 840,000 business registrations from January to November, which is up 32 percent from a year ago.
Around 82,000 of the total are online businesses, which is a sharp increase from only 1,700 registrations during pre-pandemic times.
"When you look at what's happening in the Philippines, e-commerce has driven significant growth at 55 percent which shows the resilience and vast potential of the growing digital economy here in the country," Nacario said.
This traction of online businesses and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) is due to the increasing online population in the country.
Around 37 percent of Filipinos tried new digital services during the pandemic, and 97 percent of them intend to continue this behavior even after the COVID crisis, the report showed.
Average hours spent online peaked at 5.2 hours at the height of the pandemic, but later waned to 4.9 hours, which is still higher than 4 hours in pre-pandemic times.
Filipinos are interested and "Googling" for ways to cope in the new normal, medicines and new vaccines, as well as how to continue their businesses.
"What surprised us is that 50 percent of this [data] came from non-metro areas. This is a clear indication that Filipinos realize the importance of going digital now more than ever," Nacario added.
The report showed 40 million more people went online for the first time this year, bringing up total online population to 400 million in the region.
Google is in partnership with DTI and Lazada to provide online skills training to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).
Google-DTI's MSME Caravan helped more than 14,000 MSMEs to date, helping them to scale their businesses and reach out to more customers.
Nacario said Google is also providing help to people to understand the effects of being online on their mental health, and help them "disconnect".