’Red Alert’ For Crypto Ads, Says UK Regulator

November 24, 2021
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The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority has said that tackling the rise in crypto ads throughout advertising media is a priority.

The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has said that tackling the rise in crypto ads throughout advertising media is a priority.

Bitcoin and its ilk have never been far from the headlines this year, with volatile pricing, increased regulatory scrutiny and the seemingly increasing acceptance within the mainstream of the financial services industry.

According to Forbes, market capitalisation of crypto currencies surpassed $3trn mark in November, highlighting the significance of this emerging market.

But this increased attention has also seen regulators feel the need to intervene, and the UK’s advertising agency is the latest to step in.

“Crypto-assets have exploded in popularity in recent years, but there’s a real danger that people may be drawn in to invest life savings that they later lose based on poor understanding,” the ASA has said in a statement.

The regulator is now investigating a number of crypto-assets for the following reasons:

  • Lack of appropriate risk warnings.
  • The trivialisation of investments in cryptocurrency.
  • Ads taking advantage of consumers’ inexperience or incredulity.
  • Irresponsible advertising (for example, creating a sense of urgency to invest).

The ASA will be providing clarity around expectations of crypto-asset advertising through these rulings, which it expects to publish in mid-December.

Subsequently, monitoring and enforcement will be carried out to tackle non-compliant ads for crypto-assets.

The ASA has taken action against crypto-related advertisements in the past. The most recent was back in 2019 when it ruled against a company called Fortune Academy and a crypto-asset focused course for financial services employees.

The ASA is also not the only authority to have expressed concerns about crypto adverts.

In September, the chairperson of the UK's Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) criticised the financial promotion of crypto-assets on social media and took particular aim at US celebrity Kim Kardashian, who had been paid to promote a speculative digital token.

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