The sharing economy and the Competition and Consumer Act
A regulatory perspective on the sharing economy
The sharing economy will continue to grow but there remains uncertainty around whether sharing economy operations fully comply with existing laws. This report investigates from a competition and consumer perspective.
The defining feature of the sharing economy is the existence of a platform connecting buyers and sellers in a market and reducing transactions costs, where the buyers and sellers are individuals or small businesses. Essentially, the sharing economy emerged because developments in information and communications technology have significantly lowered transactions costs.
Platforms also provide coordination benefits, reducing bargaining costs and the need for individual contracts to be negotiated for every transaction. They can also assist with policing and enforcement through peer review structures and requirements for background checks, safety checks, or insurance.
At present, sharing economy operations may not fully comply with existing laws. As laws and regulations were designed with the traditional economy in mind, there are instances where their application remains uncertain, including in the areas of taxation, insurance and employment law.
This report was commissioned by the ACCC to examine the interaction of issues relevant to the sharing economy with the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 and the Australian Consumer Law. The ACCC is currently considering the issues raised in the report. If you would like to contact the ACCC regarding the contents of this report, please contact the ACCC media team at https://www.accc.gov.au/media.