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Insights from Oxera’s ‘The future of digital’ event

On 4 February 2021, economics and finance consultancy Oxera hosted a virtual roundtable discussion between regulators, platforms, advisers and academics on the future of digital. The discussion centred on how to ensure that consumers and businesses continue to enjoy the varied benefits that digital services unlock.

The summary provides the key insights we took away from the two panel discussions. In short:

  1. None of the legislative proposals we discussed represent ‘classic’ regulation, but none are classic competition policy either. However, with a multitude of issues, services and business models in digital, it stands to reason that authorities will require multiple tools to address concerns.
  2. New rules must be fast and fair. Setting up new, dedicated agencies can take a long time, so it is better to build on existing experience and infrastructure with reformed powers than start from scratch.
  3. The innovative nature of digital markets is key to their long-run success. For regulators, this means fostering innovation among small players while preserving innovation incentives for large players. A poorly designed regime could quickly extinguish the prevailing innovation culture.
  4. While there are differences in approach between jurisdictions, they share common goals of promoting competition, choice and innovation for consumers while preventing harm.

We had a lively and insightful discussion on these issues under the Chatham House Rule, meaning that the comments made are unattributable to either the individual or their organisation. As such, our summary combines the differing views of the panellists into a single narrative, reflecting the outcome of discussions as we perceived it.

A post-event briefing note summarising the key messages that emerged from the discussion can be downloaded below.