On 28 March 2019, the Hungarian Competition Office (HCO) announced a sector inquiry of digital comparison tools, such as websites and mobile applications, used in retail, accommodation and travel, and the financial and insurance services in Hungary. Market players are invited to express their views before the HCO decides on further steps.
In its inquiry, the HCO will analyse the typical market processes used by websites and mobile applications and their impact on consumer decisions. According to the HCO, it aims to understand the role of the ever-increasing number of digital comparison tools in consumer decision-making.
It is clear that using comparative tools can help consumers make better decisions, promote transparency and increase competition. Consumers, however, must be properly informed about these tools. Besides assessing consumer expectations, habits and experiences when using digital comparison tools, the HCO's inquiry seeks to explore:
- the awareness of service providers about fair-trade obligations towards consumers;
- how and why such comparison tools have changed in content or appearance;
- the business reasons behind any changes; and
- the type and amount of communication provided by the operators of comparison tools.
The HCO will focus on sectors where consumers experience high search costs, little comparative competition and heavy use by a wide range of consumers. They will also look at sectors where comparative services are accompanied by intense communication.
The inquiry will be based on publicly available information and data from market players. Although the HCO hopes information from players will be given voluntarily, it may issue questionnaires. At the end of the process, the HCO will publish a study on its website summarising its findings.