The Nation, Bangkok, Thailand / Asia News Network.
We need no experts to tell us that the digital economy will be more prevalent this year. We will be doing more online transactions in 2015 than ever before. Movies, music, books, business stocks, sports bets and much more have been in digital form for years, but the quality and security are improving all the time, luring more and more consumers into the “convenient” marketplaces.
Companies are rethinking or reinventing their IT departments. New online applications to facilitate purchases of digital goods are introduced everyday.
Grass-root vendors who assume they are a world away from the digital economy are mistaken. No one holding a “smart” gadget in his or her hand can escape being a part of the new economic order. Anyone receiving a text advertisement or watching a video clip promoting Thai TV soap operas on YouTube in participating, whether they like it or not.
We all know about the pros. The digital economy reduces production and distribution costs and gives customers faster and often cheaper services.
The cons are a less understood. The “piracy” perceived by the financially better off is an opportunity to the less privileged. Digital goods are not only easier to copy, they are also easier to market. Political corruption and corporate crime employing the digital economy can be harder to detect. Money laundering, already sophisticated and hard to spot, will become more complex and even harder to track.
Last but not least, the digital economy might “self-cannibalise”. Inadequate regulation and copyright control can sink a product’s value in the blink of an eye. Already the entertainment industry is getting hammered by copyright infringement. Again, entertainment entrepreneurs call the copiers “thieves”, but to many consumers, the thieves are Robin Hoods who give share the wealth of knowledge and creative inspiration.