Peers or Professionals? The P2P-Economy and Competition Law
European Competition and Regulatory Law Review (2017)
31 Pages Posted: 15 Jan 2018 Last revised: 18 Mar 2018
Date Written: December 20, 2017
For almost a decade, digital peer-to-peer initiatives (eg, Uber, Airbnb) have been disrupting the traditional economy by offering informal, diverse, convenient and affordable services to consumers. However, more recently, the peer-to-peer economy has become increasingly professionalised. Service providers in the ride and home-sharing sectors feel significant pressure to offer services similar to those of professionals, practise the low or high prices suggested by algorithmic pricing tools, and show at all times professionalism. This shift towards professionalisation has been accompanied by regular information exchanges between service providers and platforms as well as by the growing use of algorithmic pricing. This article analyses first the evolution of the sharing economy from a peer-to-peer system that benefited from initial regulatory leniency due to its sustainable and informal goals, to a quasi-professional economy where users are driven by profit making and the need to receive excellent rating and reviews. Second, it provides a preliminary analysis of the potential competition concerns that might arise as information exchanges and pricing tools become more common in the platform economy. This article contributes to the existing literature by discussing the challenges of enforcing existing competition law tools in an algorithmic context.
Keywords: Sharing Economy; Peer-to-Peer Economy; Regulation; Algorithmic Pricing; Information Exchanges; Collusion; Hub-and-Spoke; Antitrust; Undertaking; Uber; Airbnb
JEL Classification: K21; K20
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation