Decentralizing components of electronic markets to prevent gatekeeping and manipulation

Martijn de Vos*, Georgy Ishmaev, Johan Pouwelse

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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The landscape of electronic marketplaces has been monopolized by a handful of market operators that have accumulated tremendous power during the last decades. This trend raises concerns about fairness and market manipulation by these operators acting as gatekeepers. These concerns have recently been outlined in the EU Digital Markets Act (DMA). In this work, we highlight how technological logic of separation understood in the framework of decentralization can address manipulation concerns. As a first step, we devise a reference model of electronic marketplaces, containing six functional components, and outline how control over these components enables different manipulative practices by gatekeepers. We identify two dimensions of decentralization that can counterbalance monopolistic abuse of marketplace components. We then present a software implementation of our reference model and demonstrate how decentralization and unbundling of market components can alleviate manipulation and fairness concerns. We end our work with a review of related approaches and conclude that modular and interoperable marketplaces can enable an open ecosystem of fair electronic markets envisioned by the DMA.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101220
JournalElectronic Commerce Research and Applications
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Blockchain
  • Decentralization
  • Decentralized finance
  • Distributed ledger technology
  • Gatekeeping
  • Market manipulation


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