TikTok to invest billions in Southeast Asia

STORY: TikTok plans to invest billions of dollars in Southeast Asia.

The short video app is doubling down on the region amid global scrutiny over its data security.

Chief executive Shou Zi Chew announced the move at a forum in Jakarta:

“The commitment in the region is very clear. We will invest billions of dollars over the next three to five years. We have already grown from almost 100 people in the region, employees, to, when I say region, I mean Southeast Asia, to almost 8,000 employees today.”

With a collective population of 630 million – half of them under 30 – the region is one of TikTok’s biggest markets in terms of user numbers.

It generates more than 325 million visitors to the app every month.

But Chew says that is yet to translate into major e-commerce revenue.

In part that’s because of tough competition from the likes of Alibaba and Indonesia’s GoTo.

TikTok didn’t break down its spending plans, but said it would invest in supporting vendors who want to sell through the app.

The move comes as the Chinese company faces growing restrictions in Western countries, over concerns Beijing could have access to its data.

TikTok says that’s based on “fundamental misconceptions”, and it would never share data with China.

In Southeast Asia it hasn’t faced any major bans, but has seen scrutiny over content.

Indonesia briefly banned TikTok in 2018 over posts it said contained pornography and blasphemy.