"Where we do find problems, we will crack down hard and fast," the Advertising Standards Authority says.
The U.K.’s advertising watchdog is stepping up its crackdown on misleading advertising surrounding cryptocurrency investments in an attempt to protect customers.
According to the Financial Times, the Advertising Standards Authority is launching a major effort to “seek out and take down misleading or irresponsible crypto advertisements, particularly online and on social media platforms.”
Miles Lockwood, the director of complaints and investigations at the ASA, told the newspaper:
“We see this as an absolutely crucial and priority area for us. Where we do find problems, we will crack down hard and fast.”
The ASA has teeth in the U.K. It can order for advertisements to be taken down if they fall afoul of the rules, and companies can also be required to add disclaimers on their marketing materials.
Back in May, the cryptocurrency exchange Luno was criticized for ads that it had taken out on the Tube, with one poster saying: “If you’re seeing Bitcoin on the Underground, it’s time to buy.”
Luno was told that this advert was misleading, and that it had “failed to illustrate the risk of the investment” — “taking advantage of consumers’ inexperience or credulity.”
The company’s chief executive stressed that it was trying to play by the rules, but an uncertain regulatory atmosphere in the U.K. made this hard to achieve.
One move by the ASA that will likely be welcomed by the crypto sector are plans to clamp down on scam ads — which often dupe victims by using photos of high-profile entrepreneurs and celebrities to make it seem like they’re making an endorsement.
Other scam ads often promise too good to be true returns, and people have lost their life savings after falling prey to fraudsters.