Public Sector - Operated Price Comparison Websites: Case Studies and Good Practices

Date Published: 
Jun 2013
Chien, J., Jaeger, J. & Maimbo, S.

Providing guidance on operating price comparison websites

This paper aims at providing regulators with practical information on operating price-comparison websites and the strategic considerations necessary to design such sites. It examines price-comparison websites operated by public sector entities in Canada, Hungary, Ireland, Malaysia, Mexico, Norway, and the United Kingdom. It also describes the price-comparison tools comparing differing approaches and highlighting good practices found across countries. Policy recommendations provided by the paper include:
  • Articulate the specific objectives of price-comparison websites based on country context, and structure sites to meet objectives;
  • Consider the best institutional arrangement for identifying an appropriate operator that can dedicate long-term resources and attention to price-comparison sites and provide complementary tools;
  • Assess the need for revising reporting requirements to include comparable metrics (such as annual percentage rate and total cost of credit), including standardized formulas for calculation;
  • Assess internal staff resources for maintenance, different funding structures, and outsource operational responsibilities;
  • Aim for broad coverage of providers in the market, a comparative advantage of public sector-operated price comparisons websites;
  • “Less is more” when determining what data to compare across product offerings, detailed data should be left to secondary web pages;
  • Consider automated data entries by providers, with spot checking, to avoid inputting errors and conserve resources.