AEIR 2021’s theme chapter analyzes the rise, opportunities, and challenges of digital platforms in the Asia and Pacific region, including their applications in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The rapid development of digital platforms, accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, will affect a broad range of economic and social aspects, including education, work arrangements, payment systems, trade logistics, and supply chains.


The COVID-19 pandemic is accelerating digitalization, transforming how we work, socialize, and create economic value.

Today, tech companies play a leading role in the global economy.

They optimize business operations to expand markets, connect people, and empower small businesses.

Digital platforms also deliver essential services—including critical ones like health and education.

They provide credit to SMEs by utilizing data on their operations.

They also create entirely new jobs—unheard of just a few years ago.

Consumers, businesses, households, and governments alike enjoy many benefits from digital platforms.

However, digital platforms disrupt markets and businesses.

Increasingly, online businesses contribute to shop closures and the loss of jobs.

They also create gig-work with little job security or protection.

Regulators still need to resolve tax leakages.

And big tech erodes domestic competition for some countries.

There are issues surrounding loss of privacy, cybersecurity, and misinformation.

Also, the gap between the tech-haves and the tech-have-nots could exacerbate inequality.

Internet access must be made more inclusive across developing Asia.

Closing the digital divide, particularly for women and the elderly, is critical. 

How can we all work together to ensure digital platforms promote inclusive development in Asia and the Pacific?

To find out, read the latest Asian Economic Integration Report.