UK watchdog bans seven crypto ads in ongoing crackdown

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The United Kingdom's advertising watchdog ruled against several crypto ads on Wednesday, saying crypto-assets are a 'red alert' priority. 

The seven companies whose ads were deemed to have broken the Advertising Standards Authority's (ASA) rules included trading platforms eToro and Coinburp; exchanges EXMO, Luno, Kraken and Coinbase; as well as a promotion from pizza chain Papa John's. 

The regulator said its rulings follow proactive monitoring of the adverts for cryptoassets, and will form part of an ongoing project which will look to shape specific guidance in 2022. The ASA said it would also monitor ads for fan tokens and NFTs. 

One ad from Papa John's, which ran on both its website and Twitter page, stated “FREE BITCOIN WORTH £10” and “Save £15 when you spend £30 or more & get £10 worth of Bitcoin from Luno!” 

Another paid-for Facebook ad for Coinbase, seen on 27 July 2021, included text which stated “£5 in #Bitcoin in 2010 would be worth over £100,000 in January 2021. Don’t miss out on the next decade – get started on Coinbase today”.

Issues cited with the ads included taking advantage of consumers’ inexperience or credulity, failing to illustrate the risk of the investment, and misleading claims about future returns from bitcoin. 

The ASA warned companies about taking advantage of consumers' lack of awareness around these "complex and volatile products".

There were no fines issued on this occasion, only warnings that future ads must include details that make clear that the value of investments in cryptocurrency could go down as well as up and that cryptocurrency is unregulated in the UK.

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