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EU could disrupt Google’s mortgage plans

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14/01/2013
Google could tone down its plans for its mortgage price comparison website if the EU Commission

Although a final decision on the EU Commission’s investigation into whether Google was abusing a dominant market position is still anticipated, EU competition chief Joaquín Almunia told the Financial Times he was convinced the search giant was diverting traffic to its own service and voiced ambitions to ‘restore the level playing field’.

Greenlight co-founder and chief operating officer Andreas Pouros, who has previously analysed other Google comparison sites, said the EU Commision’s conclusions would ‘inevitably’ have an impact on Google’s level of aggressiveness in the price comparison market.

“Almunia’s comments today suggests that they’ll be taking a hard-line approach, which may well lead to Google being less aggressive with price comparison in the UK going forward, in comparison to what they might have planned to be. “

The detail of the EU Commission conclusions would be important, he added. “We really don’t know at this stage whether the EU Commission feels Google’s entry into the price comparison market is unfair, or whether the EU Commissions conclusions will include price comparison simply by default.”

While the Google’s possible advantage over other online players has been investigated on both sides of the Atlantic, the US Federal Trade Commission recently decided not to file a lawsuit on antitrust grounds. However, Almunia stressed the FTC conclusions would not influence the EU Commission’s decision.

Google launched its revamped mortgage comparison site in December last year.  Measures designed to boost consumer confidence in the site included a strict code of conduct, a cap on adviser fees and a maximum broker commission of 1% of the total mortgage value.

However, a blog post from Greenlight questioned how closely Google was associated with financial services in consumers’ eyes after research which indicated Google’s entry into both credit cards and car insurance had less than a 1% impact on what people clicked on when they searched Google for those products.

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