UK Advertising Watchdog to Clampdown on Misleading Crypto Ads

The UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has disclosed plans to intensify monitoring of crypto-related ads targeting Britons. The move is said to be a “top priority” for the regulatory body and comes off the back of increased public interest in cryptocurrencies.

According to a report by the Evening Standard, the ASA will in the coming weeks introduce additional guidance for crypto companies conducting marketing campaigns. The regulator is also said to be “considering whether further action is needed” with regard to social influencers promoting investing in cryptocurrencies. 

These influencers often fail to disclose the risks involved, or the fact that they hold positions in the advertised cryptocurrency and investment opportunities. The ASA said it will consider further action “in addition to current ongoing investigations” of such social influencers.

Earlier this year, the regulator ordered both crypto exchanges Luno and Coinfloor to take down what was adjudged to be misleading crypto ads. 

Luno displayed ads on the side of London buses and Tubes platforms with a message that read, "If you're seeing bitcoin on the Underground, it's time to buy." Coinfloor had a newspaper ad where a retiree encouraged others to consider investing in Bitcoin and how the exchange platform made her experience seamless. 

In both cases, the ASA ruled that the ads were misleading and did not sufficiently state the risks associated with investing in Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies. Both companies also allegedly failed to state that such investments were unprotected by existing consumer financial protection laws in the UK.

Meanwhile, an ASA spokesperson told the Standard that the agency is “already taking action” with regard to outright crypto scam adverts that are ripping investors off their hard-earned money. These online ads often catch unsuspecting and new investors as shown by a recent story about a woman that lost £125,000 to a fake Bitcoin brokerage platform.

Regulatory clarity regarding crypto ads will undoubtedly help rid the emerging industry of bad actors and allow for further mainstream involvement. Rather than seeing crypto as a “get-rich-quick” opportunity, investors would make more informed decisions regarding their allocation.