Disruptive Technologies - The State of the Debate

Sharing Economy: a Multifaceted Phenomenon


Abstract


Online platforms play a prominent role in the digital economy expanding the “two-sided” or “multi-sided” business model in a unprecedented way. In that context, sharing economy platforms have disrupted some traditional sectors through innovative business propositions, creating and shaping new markets. On the one hand, the sharing economy offers to consumers more efficient, personalized services at competitive prices, exploiting the potential of under-utilized assets and of technology. On the other hand, it blurs the lines between supply and demand, creating significant hurdles to regulators. It can also raise competition concerns as indirect network effects, once the market is disrupted, can determine the creation of a dominant position. The inclusion of some contractual clauses, or some forms of control over prices, might amount to an anticompetitive behavior. Moreover, from a consumer protection perspective, the main issue consists in identifying the conditions necessary to qualify the individual interacting in the digital platform as a professional. The Italian Competition Authority has specifically dealt with the sharing economy applying its broad set of advocacy powers in the sectors of ride-sharing, home-sharing and home restaurant in relation to market access requirements and/or taxation. More in general, it has also tackled conducts by digital platforms, that might be implemented also by sharing economy operators, applying its antitrust enforcement and consumer protection tools. To conclude, the sharing economy is a cross-sector phenomenon that intersects various disciplines, including competition, and several primary public policy interests are at stake. The main issue tackled in the present contribution is how to balance them and who, between policy and decision makers, is better placed to do so.

Keywords


digital economy; online platforms; sharing economy; advocacy; disruptive innovation

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.12870/iar-12878

References






Rivista Italiana Antitrust / Italian Antitrust Review
ISSN: 2284-3272

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