The Competition Commission of Singapore (CCS) has published our report on ‘E-commerce and its impact on competition policy and law in Singapore’. The findings were presented at the CCS E-commerce Seminar by DotEcon Partner Dr Christian Koboldt, to more than 150 participants from different sectors.
Our report surveys the state of e-commerce in Singapore, finding that, though e-commerce adoption lags behind many other countries, it is growing and has transformed some sectors of the economy.
We consider the benefits that e-commerce can bring to competition and consumers, including through innovative business models, price transparency and greater choice. However, these come with risks. Price transparency might lead to low prices at the expense of quality, and might increase the likelihood of collusion. New business models may deliver more efficient services, but might create dominant online platforms that could act anti-competitively. Use of consumer data can support personalised services, but raises issues from data protection and competition perspectives.
The challenge for competition authorities is to allow benefits from e-commerce to be realised without exposing consumers to excessive risks. Existing competition policy frameworks – such as in Singapore – can meet this challenge, as long as the relevant issues are given due emphasis when applying the frameworks. Markets affected by e-commerce may require a careful analysis of network effects, of vertical agreements and of the role of consumer data as a competitive asset. Competition advocacy may promote awareness of the risks associated with e-commerce. Co-operation between authorities should help deal with competition issues that could increasingly cross national borders.