CMA rules out in-depth market investigation into price comparison websites

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has said will not escalate its study into digital comparison tools into a more in-depth market investigation. The competition authority said in an update that the remaining options are sufficient to remedy any issues that may be found.

The CMA said its market study had identified four areas of possible concern in the digital comparison tools market, which it will now focus on for the second phase. Its concerns are:

  • whether sites could be more transparent – for instance in their market coverage and business models, and in their treatment of personal data
  • whether the benefits that digital comparison tools can offer could be further improved if suppliers made more information available
  • certain practices and contractual arrangements that could limit healthy competition between digital comparison tools
  • the way digital comparison tool are regulated

In its update paper, the CMA said: “We have decided that a market investigation reference is not necessary, as the four types of further action identified above can be pursued through the powers we and others have, without a market investigation.”

At the close of the market study, the CMA can:

  • give a market a clean bill of health
  • take action to improve the quality and accessibility of information to consumers
  • encourage businesses to self-regulate
  • make recommendations to the government to change regulations or public policy
  • take competition or consumer law enforcement action
  • refer for a more in-depth market investigation

The CMA is now inviting comments on the views set out in the update paper by 24 April 2017. You can respond by email to [email protected] or by post to:

Digital Comparison Tools Market Study
Competition and Markets Authority
Victoria House
37 Southampton Row

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