Sea to back cross-border e-commerce

Sea to back cross-border e-commerce

Ms Maneerut hosted Sea Story 2022 to celebrate the firm's decade-long journey in Thailand.
Ms Maneerut hosted Sea Story 2022 to celebrate the firm's decade-long journey in Thailand.

Sea (Thailand), the local operating unit of NYSE-listed internet giant Sea, is gearing up to support cross-border e-commerce for Thai enterprises and seeking a licence to serve as a digital bank in the country as part of its move to thrive in the Thai market.

Founded in Singapore, Sea runs three core businesses covering Shopee, an e-commerce platform; Garena, an online games developer and publisher; and SeaMoney, a provider of digital payments and financial services.

Sea made headlines last month when it laid off 300 employees working for Shopee, online payment service ShopeePay and food delivery arm ShopeeFood in Thailand, according to the Labour Ministry.

The firm had around 7,000 employees in Thailand before the restructuring.

"We have already proceeded with the restructuring amid market changes and volatility," said Maneerut Anulomsombut, chief executive of Sea (Thailand).

"We postponed the coverage expansion of ShopeeFood and ShopeePay. We have no plan to further pursue restructuring except we face other uncontrollable circumstances in addition to the Ukraine-Russia war and the pandemic."

Sea (Thailand) marks a decade of operation in the country this year.

"Over the past 10 years, our digital services have reached millions of users across the country and become a part of the digital lifestyle," Ms Maneerut said.

Shopee will focus more on its data-driven push while empowering local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and sellers to reach out to overseas markets, she said.

In May, the firm launched the Shopee International Platform (SIP), which aims to enable local businesses to capture more opportunities in the international market.

According to Ms Maneerut, gross merchandise volume (GMV) of Thailand's e-commerce was over US$21 billion in 2021 and it is projected to reach $35 billion in 2025, growing at a compound annual growth rate of 14%.

In 2021, Shopee (Thailand) saw a 70% and 40% increase in non-metropolitan sellers and non-metropolitan users, respectively.

For SeaMoney, the firm started this business with digital payment AirPay but it was rebranded ShopeePay in 2021.

In 2021, the number of ShopeePay users outside of Thailand's major cities also increased by over 50% from 2020, said Ms Maneerut.

The digital wallet user base in Thailand is expected to reach 41.9 million in 2025, up from 18.6 million in 2020.

"We will serve as a digital bank in Thailand once the related licence is open to apply," said Ms Maneerut.

She said the firm's digital loan received a good response from sellers.

For Garena, the firm will continue to offer a variety of new games, such as Blockman GO (Sandbox) and Moonlight Blade (MMORPG), while ramping up efforts to boost the e-sport ecosystem in the country, she said.

In 2021, Thailand had over 32 million gamers with the country's gaming and e-sports market worth 33 billion baht, increasing by 14% from the previous year, she said.

"Thailand can be the e-sports hub of Southeast Asia, serving as a magnet for foreigners," said Ms Maneerut.

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