On 9 January, the British Institute for International and Comparative Law launched discussions on “new thinking about the interaction between regulation and innovation”. Hanne Melin of eBay Inc. Public Policy Lab was one of the panelists.
Melin joined a vibrant panel consisting of Corey Owens of Uber and Giles Andrews of Zopa. John Fingleton was the scene-setter, while Simon Bishop of RBB Economics acted as a provocateur.
There is a growing list of innovators challenging the traditional way of providing services. The pace is fast and therefore little surprise that disruptors bump into regulation designed for yesterday’s payments, financing and taxi services, to name a few. It was the idea of Phil Evans of FIPRA to involve the competition community in discussions about “disruptive competition”.
A central question, which the debate kept coming back to, was the role of competition authorities where disruptive competition is held back by regulation no longer fit for purpose.
- Market or sector reports as an instrument for understanding the development of markets and identifying roadblocks for disruptors: If such reports remain a centrally controlled, by competition authorities, investigation that run for a few years, they will unlikely capture issues in a timely manner. But reinvented, they could become a mechanism capable of continuously observing and making sense of market developments.
- Competition authorities as advocates: Policymakers can be “sense-makers”; they can interpret change and give meaning to unfolding events. This is a role competition authorities could assume. They could add a perspective, for instance, when consumer protection arguments are raised against disruptors. Through attentiveness to language, they could help instill trust in novel services. They could even advocate for policy changes when they identify regulation that impedes disruptive competition.
eBay Inc. Public Policy Lab’s participation in this event ties into the “SMART Governance” project launched by PayPal in 2013.