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Surge in Smartphones Spurs Likely M-commerce Boom in Vietnam

Smart handsets now owned by 36% of population in Asia's most ecommerce-friendly country.

Photo: Saigon selfie: Vietnamese smartphone users.
Saigon selfie: Vietnamese smartphone users.
Photo: Saigon selfie: Vietnamese smartphone users.
Saigon selfie: Vietnamese smartphone users.

With some 36% of the population now owning a smartphone, Vietnam could be on the brink of a mobile purchasing boom. According to the 2014 Global Connected Survey, smartphone ownership in the country has soared from just 20% last year to its current record level.

Although the number is still lower than the global average (49%), Vietnam's distinct propensity for online purchasing is likely to be bolstered by this greater penetration of smartphone ownership. Last year, some 28% of Vietnam's shoppers made purchases online, compared to just 20% in Thailand, a country previously regarded as Asia's most ecommerce-friendly territory.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, growth in the number of Vietnamese smartphone owners was most apparent among consumers in the 16-24 age group. In 2013, only 27% of such consumers owned the high-tech devices, with the figure reaching 58% this year.

Overall, according to the survey Vietnamese consumers are open to new technology, with 59% of those sampled indicating that "high-tech brings more chances than risks" to their lives. A quarter of the surveyed consumers said they owned at least two high-tech devices – typically a PC and a smartphone or tablet – while 2% said they owned all three.

Of those respondents, 36% chose to access the Internet via their smartphones, far higher than the 5% doing so by tablet. The most popular option (44%), however, remains going online via a PC. While online, 85% of Vietnamese users watch videos, with 78% of these doing so via their smartphones. This rate is the third highest in the world, behind only Saudi Arabia (97%) and China (92%).

Despite the surge in ownership figures, Vietnam still lags behind its Asian neighbours in m-commerce. At present, smartphone ownership is around 40% in Thailand, 51% in Malaysia and 85% in Singapore.

The survey was based on interviews with 1,000 Vietnamese respondents over the age of 16. It was conducted during the first two quarters of 2014.

Nguyen Quoc Uy, Ho Chi Minh City Office

Content provided by Picture: HKTDC Research
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