Comparison tools under the spotlight

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is today launching a study into digital comparison tools (DTC) such as comparison websites and apps.

It will consider how to maximise the potential benefits of DCTs for consumers, and reduce any barriers to how they work.

It will consider if consumers would benefit from being made more aware of how DCTs earn money, and whether arrangements between DCTs and the suppliers that sell through them might restrict competition.

Andrea Coscelli, CMA acting chief executive, said, ‘Digital comparison tools have played a big part in changing markets for the better, bringing new ways of doing things and forcing businesses to up their game. Consumers have benefited as choice and access to goods and services have grown.

‘Since emerging a decade or so ago, such tools have helped to inject significant competition into a number of markets, including private motor insurance. They have made it easier for consumers to engage in many markets. However, they have been more successful in some sectors than others. We want to understand why this is the case and whether more can be done to ensure consumers and businesses can benefit from them more widely.

‘Some people have also raised concerns about certain issues, including whether consumers can trust the information that’s available, and the study will look at these issues too.’

The study will address 4 key themes: what consumers expect from DCTs, how they use them and their experiences; the impact of DCTs on competition between suppliers listed on them; how effectively DCTs compete with each other; and the effectiveness of existing regulatory approaches to DCTs.