Gamcare spoke to one person who was on trading apps for 16 hours a day — chasing losses and lying to their family about the situation they were in.
Crypto investors at risk of addictive behavior need greater protection from exchanges, a British charity has warned.
Gamcare says excessive trading "can impact not only a person's finances, but can affect their mental, physical health, relationships, work or education."
The organization wants trading platforms to offer self-exclusion schemes — a tool commonly used by gambling sites that means users can voluntarily ban themselves for a predetermined period of time.
Although the volatile nature of digital assets is well-documented, Gamcare says:
"When it comes to high-risk investing, consumer communications and messaging tends to focus on financial risk, scams and fraud, whilst the wider harms on the person and society are overlooked."
The charity runs a helpline and has received a growing number of calls from Britons who trade stocks and cryptocurrencies. One person said:
"I was looking at the trading apps nearly 16 hours a day. I kept putting my money in and chasing losses, whilst lying to my family about how I was getting on. On a Friday night, I would dread the weekend because I couldn’t do any trading. That’s when I realized I was no longer trading, I had a gambling problem."
Gamcare recently invited banks and investment platforms to discuss the issue — and it was suggested that crypto exchanges "should have tools and strategies in place to identify and protect customers vulnerable to trading harms."
'A Lot in Common' with Gambling
In the U.K, a number of organizations offer blocking software that ensures at-risk users can no longer access gambling sites. One of them, Gamban, has now added support for trading platforms that offer cryptocurrencies, forex trading and CFDs. Gamban's CEO, Jack Symons, said:
"Many of these products share a lot in common with gambling platforms; there's no barrier to entry, they encourage over-trading and possess game-like characteristics."
Crypto exchanges are being encouraged to highlight "the warning signs of when trading has crossed over into gambling" — and potentially introduce tools that allow users to manage their activity, such as deposit limits, time-outs, and clearly visible profit and loss summaries.
Another area of improvement concerns training customer service staff so they can refer users to third-party organizations who are able to help.
"Crypto will wreck you emotionally and physically. You will get scarred for life."
"I'm in a poor state financially and it isn't the state I want to be in. It's ruined my world and my mental health… I've reached a point of attempting to commit suicide."
But as Ruchira Sharma's article points out, this issue isn't often discussed on social networks like Reddit and Twitter — and instead, the discourse tends to focus on HODLing (holding on for dear life.)
If you're feeling emotionally distressed or suicidal, you shouldn't suffer in silence. There are people you can talk to. Find a list of helplines around the world here.