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Mind the gap: the consideration of financial technologies and blockchain in the reform of the Vertical Agreements Block Exemption Regulation

Lucy M.R. Chambers

Keywords: fintech; blockchain; vertical agreements; restraints; reform

This article seeks to draw attention to two areas of technological innovation relevant to the digital economy that the European Commission (‘Commission’) seems so far to have missed in its evaluation of the effectiveness of and reforms required to the Vertical Agreements Block Exemption Regulation (‘VBER’) and the associated Guidelines: fintech and blockchain technologies. In particular, this article seeks to demonstrate that vertical agreements can produce novel solutions in certain fintech markets, whilst also creating potential novel issues around exclusion, bundling and market power when used in the context of blockchain technologies. It is hoped that the results of the public consultation will bring some of these issues to the Commission's attention, because without taking these issues into consideration the Commission risks missing the opportunity to make ex ante changes to the VBER to ensure that it is ready for potential future innovations in the digital economy.

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