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India is touted to have the 3rd largest online shopper base globally, only behind China and the US. The COVID-19 pandemic has further fuelled the transition from offline to online consumption by consumers. As a natural corollary, presence on large digital platforms has become unavoidable for sellers/business users to reach consumers. The unavoidable dependence by business users on online platforms has enabled certain technology giants to act as ‘gatekeepers’ for various segments of the market.

Allegations of unfair and anti-competitive practices by E-marketplaces have come to be routinely levelled by business users. This includes practices such as deep discounting, self-preferencing of private labels owned by platform operators, and lack of transparency regarding search rankings, reviews and usage of data. Existing laws and policies targeted at the regulation of digital platform-to-business user (‘P2B’) relationships are proving to be either misdirected or inadequate.

Given the fact that India is one of the largest markets for E-marketplaces coupled with the significance of SMEs relying on digital platforms for our economy, the inherent power imbalances in P2B relationships merit due regulatory attention.

Vidhi’s new working paper ‘Fair and Competitive E-marketplaces (F.A.C.E.) | The Business Users’ Narrative’ examines issues arising in the relationship between digital platforms and their business users. It studies the regulatory landscape as applicable to E-marketplaces in India from a business users’ lens and surveys practices in regulating large incumbent ‘gatekeeper’ platforms across 7 international jurisdictions.

Against this background, Vidhi hosted a webinar on ‘Fair and Competitive E-marketplaces in India – The Business Users’ Narrative’, on 23rd September 2021. The Panel Discussion sought to start an important conversation on building a contestable and fair e-commerce ecosystem in India.

The Speakers:

1. Dr KP Krishnan, IEPF Chair Professor in Regulatory Economics

2. Dr. Cristina Caffarra, Senior Consultant (European Competition), Charles River Associates, UK.

3. Rahul Matthan, Founding Partner and Head of Technology Practice Group, Trilegal

Vedika Mittal Kumar, Lead, Competition Law team at Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy, moderated the session.

Download the working paper ‘Fair and Competitive E-marketplaces (F.A.C.E.) | The Business Users’ Narrative‘.

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