(P46) Platform Economy in Southeast Asia: Progress, Prospects and the COVID-19 Pandemic
Thu 11:00-12:30 K14 | 1.07
- Ivy Jessen Galvan University of the Philippines
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Platform Playbook: A Typology of Consumer Strategies for Algorithmic Platforms
Godofredo Jr Ramizo University of Oxford
Digital Platforms, which many Southeast Asians rely on for essential services and employment, consist of algorithms and rules that shape user behaviour. When faced with these instruments of the platform’s interests, how do consumers protect their own interests? Through qualitative fieldwork focused on commuters using ride-hailing platforms in Manila, this paper shows that consumers develop strategies to achieve better terms for themselves. This paper sheds light on the behaviour of platform consumers in two ways, with potential applicability to Southeast Asia and beyond. First, I develop a fine-grained typology of consumer strategies used in algorithmic digital systems, consisting of 5 major types and 18 sub-types. Second, I explain the implications of these consumer strategies. I differentiate consumer strategies from worker strategies, and explain how consumer strategies affect the interests of consumers themselves, the workers, and the platform company. I show that certain contextual factors influence consumers to undertake self-sacrificial strategies and those that harm workers. However, the attempts of consumers to soften platformic control ironically harden consumer reliance on the platform, thus ultimately serving the platform’s long-term interests.
Sentiment Analysis of News Articles on E-commerce in the Philippines: An AI Approach
Ivy Jessen Galvan University of the Philippines
The past decade saw remarkable technological developments, not the least of which is the growth of e-commerce. E-commerce rose to rival traditional shopping alongside the increasing role of the Internet in the conduct of daily activities. While e-commerce in the Philippines is still at an early stage, its impact on the digital transformation of the economy provides strong reasons to monitor its growth. Probing into the state of e-commerce in the Philippines, this study looks into news articles to examine the polarity of sentiments on e-commerce, identify trends, and enhance foresight on e-commerce trajectory. A total of 1,027 articles from 2011-2021 were quantitatively analyzed using Google Natural Language Sentiment Analysis tool. Results show fluctuating sentiments through the years with a significant increase in positive sentiment during the COVID-19 pandemic. Lasting adoption of e-commerce is expected in the Philippines.
Tamsang-Tamsong: The social solidarity platform economy model
Akkanut Wantanasombut Chulalongkorn University
The social-distancing measures that were implemented due to the outbreak of COVID-19 had drastic economic consequences to food vendors and motorcycle taxi drivers. Prohibited from dining-in, customers in quarantine can only order food through food delivery platforms that make a profit through charging fees from the vendors. To compensate, vendors are pressured to raise their prices. As a result, customers who are also struggling economically have to spend more. Motorcycle taxi drivers are heavily impacted by the reduced need for transportation as regular passengers now work from home. These challenges are the context that gave way to our action research, which links these three stakeholders together under the framework of social solidarity economy.
Tamsang-Tamsong (Food Ordered, Passengers Delivered) is a community-based food delivery and ride-hailing platform. Operating in the Ladprao 101 area, Tamsang-Tamsong strengthens the wellbeing of the community by assisting food vendors, motorcycle taxi drivers, and customers in transitioning to a platform economy. The model based on the social solidarity economy that Tamsang-Tamsong uses is now replicated to other areas in the country to increase job security and empower communities, even when social-distancing measures are no longer in effect.
Over the past decade, the platform economy emerged as a ‘disruptive’ technology that stands against the traditional model of production and consumption. As these platforms – characterized by the use of algorithmically-managed digital networks to connect users with demand and users with need – insert themselves into societies, discussions about the implications of the platform economy have begun and views span a spectrum of a perfect opportunity for a truly inclusive economy to a looming economic doom. Scholars have taken some major approaches to explain outcomes for platform economy: innovation, labor and legal issues. The panel further weighs in by providing perspectives from different areas:
- Socio-cultural - How do the platforms adapt to specific country cultures? Who are the winners and losers in this technological revolution?
- Technological - What would be the impact of blockchain technology? Are startup valuations justified by the current trends?
- Economic - In what ways do they really “disrupt” the existing economic structures? What are the future prospects of these companies in the context of ASEAN integration?
- Environmental – How is the platform economy faring in terms of its sustainability promises?
- Political – How are governments responding? What are the regulatory tensions?
Faced by an extraordinary challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic, several industries reacted by adapting their business models in the platform economy. The delivery and e-commerce platforms played a key role in bringing essential needs to users during the lockdowns. Panelists would also examine the ways in which this phenomenon is unfolding in different parts of Southeast Asia. The panel considers theoretical and empirical approaches from various fields with an aim of painting the current landscape of the platform economy in Southeast Asia and comes up with possible future scenarios based on the analysis of the contributors’ findings.