IGF 2018 WS #293 Enhancing Consumer Trust in Peer Platform Markets

Organizer 1: Intergovernmental Organization, Intergovernmental Organization
Organizer 2: Intergovernmental Organization, Intergovernmental Organization

Peer-to-peer transactions have long played a role in commerce, but today's online platforms enable them on a much greater scale. These business models open up economic opportunities for the individuals supplying the goods or services ("peer providers") and for the platforms making the connections ("peer platforms"). For consumers of these services ("peer consumers"), there are advantages in terms of price, selection, convenience and social experience. Some may also be attracted to the prospect of more sustainable models of consumption.
In addition to these benefits, peer platform markets (PPMs), or alternatively called sharing economy, raise new policy and regulatory challenges, including consumer protection issues. It can be difficult to apply existing consumer protection frameworks to business models that blur the boundaries between consumers and businesses. Some peer providers may generate sufficient commercial activity to suggest that they should bear consumer protection responsibilities, while at the same time appearing to be in a consumer relationship with the platform.
The challenge of building trust in "traditional" business-to-consumer e-commerce would seem to be particularly imposing in peer platform markets, where peer providers are non-professional without an established brand or other indicia of reliability. Although many peer platforms employ trust-building mechanisms for the users of their services (e.g. secure payment mechanisms, reputation or rating systems, pre-screening and verification, insurance, and complaints handling and dispute resolution), the question remains on whether such mechanisms reduce the need for new policy and regulatory approach to protect consumers.
This topic would benefit from the IGF’s December 2017 workshop on Governance Innovation in the Age of Sharing Economy, which focused on governance challenges associated with peer platform markets. The proposed workshop will bring another dimension to the topic by discussing consumer policy perspectives in that area.

Format: 

Panel - 90 Min

Interventions: 

Speakers for this workshop were selected in terms of their expertise in the subject and on the different perspectives they will bring to this multi-faceted discussion. The moderator will make sure that they present their views in a way to contribute to the objective of the workshop:
• Ms. Amanda Long, Director General of Consumers International, leads the organization which represents more than 240 consumer rights groups in 120 countries around the world, and has an exemplary track record in business, social enterprise and the public sector.
• Mr. François Martins is manager for Government Relations and Public Policy, MercadoLivre, and leads work on building bridges between Mercado Libre’s business needs and the public sector's programmes.
• Ms. Delia Rickard is Deputy Chair of Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, Australia, and plays an active role in the ACCC’s consumer protection work.
• Mr. Hugh Stevenson is the chair of the OECD Committee on Consumer Protection, as well as Deputy Director for Office of International Affairs, the Federal Trade Commission of the United States.
• Mr. Akira Yoshida (Moderator) is consumer policy analyst at the OECD, specialised in consumer protection in e-commerce.

Diversity: 

This workshop is designed to provide diverse perspectives. It is balanced in terms of stakeholder groups (with intergovernmental organisation, civil society, government and private sector representation), gender (with a balance of 2 out 4 speakers being women), and geographic representation (Europe, North America, Latin America and Asian-Pacific).

The OECD’s recent study of 10 000 consumers across ten OECD countries reveals that consumers generally have a relatively high degree of trust in PPMs, even when compared to conventional businesses in similar markets. However, more needs to be done to better understand the key drivers influencing consumer behaviour and the role of trust building mechanism, in order to explore potentially new policy and regulatory approaches to enhance consumer trust in PPMs.
The purpose of this workshop is to bring together representatives from diverse stakeholder groups to discuss key drivers of consumer trust in peer platform markets and policy issues oriented around the other two main actors on PPMs: peer platforms and peer providers. More specifically, the workshop would provide an opportunity to further discuss:
• What are key drivers of consumer trust in a peer platform market? To what extent do the kinds of trust enhancing mechanisms and initiatives provided by peer platforms respond to the key drivers articulated by peer consumers?
• What is the role of peer platforms to protect consumers engaging in peer-to-peer transactions? What responsibility should a peer platform bear for consumer injury arising from transactions undertaken through the platform? To what extent should peer platforms be held accountable for the behaviour of peer providers on their platforms?
• What about the role of peer providers to protect peer consumers? Should the rules and standards for consumer protection apply to peer providers in the same way as would be the case for more traditional businesses?
The discussion will be supported by the recent OECD reports in this area, namely Protecting Consumers in Peer Platform Markets and Trust in peer platform markets. It will also benefit from the UNCTAD Manual on Consumer Protection and the United Nations Guidelines for Consumer Protection.

Discussion Facilitation: 

The moderator will set the stage by providing a context to the workshop, with the OECD survey on consumer trust in peer platform markets and will make sure all the different perspectives are equally represented throughout the discussions.
Through an interactive, multi stakeholder dialogue, the workshop will then be structured in two parts guided by the following questions:
1) What are the are key drivers of consumer trust in a peer platform market?
2) What is the role of peer platforms to protect consumers engaging in peer-to-peer transactions? What about the role of peer providers?
After the first and second round of questions, the moderator will open the floor for participation of the audience (remote and on-site). Specific questions which the moderator can pose to speakers will be prepared in advance to aid discussion and debate only if necessary as all participants will be encouraged to contribute to the discussion. The moderator will summarise the main takeaways of the session.

Online Participation: 

Remote participation will be facilitated by the remote moderator who will be involved throughout workshop planning to advise on where remote participation will need to be facilitated. The moderator will frequently communicate with the remote moderator throughout the session to ensure remote participants’ views/questions are reflected. The workshop will be promoted in advance to the wider community to give remote participants the opportunity to prepare questions and interventions and to generate interest in the workshop. We will also ensure the workshop is promoted on websites of OECD and UNCTAD and via social media.

Contact Information

United Nations
Secretariat of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF)

Villa Le Bocage
Palais des Nations,
CH-1211 Geneva 10
Switzerland

igf [at] un [dot] org
+41 (0) 229 173 678