Blockchain governance: the missing piece in the competition puzzle

Maggiolino, Mariateresa; Zoboli, Laura

Antitrust law deals with economic matters as if they were all industrial processes, that is, processes through which companies transform inputs into outputs. In this sense, we could say that antitrust law is still a Nineteenth Century law, even when it comes to platforms that transform digital data into services. For this reason, when we look at blockchains through the lenses of antitrust law, they are either framed as the result of an industrial process (the blockchain as an output) or as a means that allows the development of an industrial process (the blockchain as a tool).
However, these two pieces do not complete the puzzle: they do not say much about the competitive impact of blockchains. Studying the operating mechanisms of blockchains and, in particular, their governance, one realizes that the puzzle must acquire a new piece: the
information on who controls the blockchain. This piece of information reveals that even dominant blockchains, which are still nowhere to be seen, could be harmless if truly devoid of any central authority and that even strategic exchanges of information via permissioned blockchains should not trigger any antitrust liability, if blockchains’ administrators managed to allow the exchange only among non-competing participants.