The Sharing Economy, Competition and Regulation

The Sharing Economy, Competition and Regulation

11 Pages · 2012 · 1.23 MB · English

things, this means being able to rely on internet based reputation systems, possibly of their own design and for their own . The Oxford Dictionary of.

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1 CPI’s Europe Column Presents: T he Sharing Economy , Competition and Regulation B y J o ã o E Gata (Portug uese Competition Authority ) November 2015 2 Abstract The term ‘sharing economy’ has become an umbrella encompassing different types of economic activities, somewhat informal, though all of them dependent on online platforms that bring together providers of different goods and services and users, and where mutual trust is an essential input as standard and more intrusive regulation is often absent Involving new governance structures as a response to lower transaction costs, the s haring economy can promote greater efficiency in the use of already existing economic assets and lead to possibly better investment strategies Besides questioning traditional economic regulation, it may also pose challenges to competition policy, as regar ding for example the use of common pricing algorithms Uber, one instance of the ‘sharing economy’ when loosely understood, has experienced particularly contentious challenges to its activity in many of the different countries and municipalities where it o perates or used to operate Its activity has challenged long existing transport regulation and the incumbents’ long standing presence in different markets Reestablishing a level playing field may call for a welcoming revision of such regulations without d iscouraging efficiency enhancing technological changes This reform process may benefit from well established strands in economics, namely transaction costs economics and club goods theory, as they may help us to better understand the impact and future dev elopments of the ‘sharing economy’ Introduction Sharing assets is an old practice in human societies The so called “sharing economy” is much more recent, as it involves matching people who want to share assets via online platforms, potentially at a gl obal scale, through the use of personal computers, tablets and smartphones The term “sharing economy” may not have a consensual definition and has been used as a catchword encompassing different, but possibly overlapping, types of more or less informal economic activities, though all of them dependent on online platforms and all of them involving new governance structures 2 In fact, terms such as “sharing economy”, “on demand service” and “collaborative consumption” have been used as close substitutes, o r even synonyms 3 We may follow Botsman (2015) in her attempt, even if not totally successful, to clarify these concepts, by defining “sharing economy” as « an economic system based on sharing underused assets or services, for free or for a fee, directly fr om individuals », as is the case of Airbnb or BlaBlaCar 4 On the other hand, Uber would be classified as an “on demand service” 5, ie, « a platform that directly matches customer’s needs with providers to immediately deliver goods and services » In this case, no sharing of underused assets may be involved

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