The UK’s advertising regulator is planning to clamp down on advertising around cryptocurrencies amid growing concern that unregulated digital assets are leaving consumers open to harm.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) told the FT on Friday that it will begin a major effort later this month to find and remove misleading and irresponsible crypto adverts, particularly those found online and on social media.
The ASA’s director of complaints and investigations Miles Lockwood said that the regulator plans to “crack down fast and hard” on any problems in the sector and that the agency and identified crypto as a “red alert” priority within the financial advertising space.
The move to come down more strongly on crypto advertising follows a ruling by the ASA in May that an ad campaign by crypto exchange Luno telling consumers that it is “time to buy” Bitcoin had failed to sufficiently indicate that digital currency was “complex, volatile, and could expose investors to losses”.
As a result, the ASA order the ads not to appear again and that Luno’s future marketing should make it “sufficiently clear that the value of investments in Bitcoin was variable and could go down as well as up”.
The ASA is also not the only UK regulator to warn about the risks of investing in crypto, with the Financial Conduct Authority having said earlier this year that crypto investors should be prepared to lose all of their money due to the unregulated and volatile nature of digital assets.
In mid-afternoon trading on Friday, Bitcoin was up 0.3% in the last 24 hours at US$32,898, giving it a market cap of just under US$617bn.