We have now published our report on Price Comparison Websites
The report offers a view on four key points:
- how consumers engage with the market of PCWs;
- what benefits there are for customers and for competition;
- what potential risks could undermine the effectiveness of the comparison sites; and
- what regulatory powers can be applied to address these potential risks now as well as the future challenges that will come from innovations in the market.
Focusing on case studies from the three regulators that led the work – the Financial Conduct Authority, Ofgem and Ofcom – the report draws upon a large amount of existing research and data, including market studies, consumer surveys and behavioural economics theory.
We have also gathered comments from a number of academics working in competition and policy, who have provided a perspective on our report from outside the regulatory realm. Their response can be accessed here.
We were keen that our review of PCWs had some practical applications. We think the report will be a useful benchmark for other regulators looking for an overview of PCWs and examples of current approaches to regulation. We hope it will also be a valuable reference tool for consumer groups, particularly where it draws attention to potential inconsistencies of service levels between firms.
Finally, the report has highlighted a number of emerging themes. We were keen to make the most of these opportunities for further study and, as the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) started planning its investigation of digital comparison tools, we saw this as a unique opportunity to share our insights, which we have now done in an open letter to the CMA.