In today’s episode of PayTechTalk, I am talking to Dr. Hendrik Reffken about the sector inquiry launched by the French antitrust authority. Dr. Hendrik Reffken is an expert in antitrust law and regulatory matters, particularly in the area of digitisation. He currently works as an in-house lawyer at Schindler Deutschland AG & Co. KG in Berlin. The background:
With the so-called sector inquiries, antitrust authorities have an interesting instrument at their disposal in order to get to know a certain market in detail. They can use the information obtained from such an inquiry to make subsequent decisions or to make proposals to legislators for regulation in a certain area. The Fintech industry has so far only seen very few decisions from antitrust authorities. In our podcast, we talk about what a sector inquiry is and what effects it can have.
What exactly are the questions?
The French antitrust authority is looking into the following topics:
- it wants to increase its understanding of the changes in this sector (particularly also regarding technological developments such as blockchain and cloud)
- market definition, market position and competitive advantages of the various market participants
- trends in the market and what plans the market participants have
Will this affect Germany?
What we know for sure is that antitrust authorities exchange information. In all likelihood, issues such as how the “Fintech” market should be defined, what players may have strong or even dominant positions in the market and/or how they exclude or limit competitors through their actions, arise in France to the same degree as in Germany. Particularly in light of the fact that the French authority explicitly asks about platforms and technologies, their inquiry may also be about big players such as Amazon, Facebook and, of course, Apple. This may sound familiar to you as there was a German attempt to solve an antitrust issue by introducing regulation like the “Lex Apple Pay”. However, the questionnaire from the French authority sounds a little bit as if it was also about protecting the traditional banks from the Fintech players.
The deadline for comments is 19 June 2020
Interested parties who are active in the French market (but they do not need to be domiciled there) have until 19 June 2020 to provide their comments on the questions provided by the antitrust authority. This offers an opportunity to draw attention to any grievances they have and therefore provide their input to an adequate definition of the market. However, the antitrust authority may also use this as a basis to launch individual inquiries. We therefore recommend any participation to be accompanied by a French lawyer.
Enjoy listening to our 52nd episode of PayTechTalk.
Please note that the podcast is in German.
Further information and related links
About of our podcast expert Dr. Hendrik Reffken
Dr. Hendrik Reffken has been an in-house lawyer at Schindler Deutschland AG & Co. KG in Berlin since 2017. The Schindler group is one of the world’s leading providers of lifts and escalators and any services connected therewith. After completing his legal studies at Georg-August-Universität in Göttingen and his subsequent training contract, Hendrik Reffken worked for Hengeler Mueller law firm at their office in Düsseldorf for five years. He then spent four years in the Berlin legal department of the waste disposal and recycling company ALBA Group. He specialises in advising on antitrust and regulatory matters, particularly in the area of digitisation.
- Questionnaire of the French antitrust authority: https://www.autoritedelaconcurrence.fr/sites/default/files/consultation_pub_fintech_mai20_EN.pdf
- French law firm from the Fintech Lawyers Network who can help with participating in the inquiry: https://www.aramis-law.com/en/
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