While providing users with undoubtedly useful solutions, almost all online services take something instead – users’ data. Moreover, some of these companies may issue kind of payment facilities that can possibly threaten national currencies.
This statement has been made today by Serik Zhumangarin, head of Kazakhstan’s Agency for Protection and Development of Competition (APDC) during a discussion on digital services. As the official noted, everyone can notice traits of digital inequality while using services by the global tech giants.
“There is an uneven playing field in the digital economy for those who own the information, I mean the owners of digital platforms, and those who only use these services. Many believe that these online services are free of charge but the simple truth is that users pay for these benefits with personal data – this is a very strong currency that never devaluates. And of course, any regulator pays close attention to the risks associated with the issuing of any kind of payment facilities which can pose a threat to the national payment systems,” he said.
Another less obvious risk of that situation is a so-called blocking effect when a user finds himself blocked within a single platform because it is so big and offers so many services that moving to another platform is painful.
According to the agency, the number of digital transactions in Kazakhstan over January to June 2021 was 97% higher compared with the same period last year. The average expenditure in the first half of the year was about $106 (+10%). The share of marketplaces in the e-commerce sector this year may account for 62%.
“There are many cases that have been reviewed by regulators. For example, Google often puts a priority on its search engine, I mean when you are searching for something you always get Google results first. Search results by other engines are always ranked,” Zhumangarin said.
Currently, the agency is going to create an expert council for competition development on the digital markets in conjunction with the Eurasian Economic Commission. The main goal of this endeavor is to develop a legal basis for regulation of the new reality on the digital markets in Kazakhstan and the entire Eurasian Economic Union. Also, the agency is going to update the legislation in the sphere of competition protection.
The discussion on digital competition within EEU followed the complaints by Yandex, a Russian IT company, that accuses Google of having a monopoly. According to Yandex, the American tech giant does everything it can to prevent competitors from being better presented on the market. As APDC told the Kursiv edition, it is going to have consultations with its counterpart from other EEU member states.