UK’s Advertising Standards Authority, or ASA, acted on a complaint against a Bitcoin advertisement. The ad in question was published by crypto exchange Coinfloor in the local press on 3 December 2020. Titled “there is no point in keeping your money in the bank…” the text in the ad received much criticism.
Alleged as “targeting” retired people, the Bitcoin ad featured a woman in her 60s who appeared to have invested her pension in Bitcoin. Her quote is as follows:
Today there is no point keeping it in the bank – the interest rates are insulting […] That is why when I received my pension, I put a third of it into gold, a third of it into silver, and the remainder into Bitcoin… To me, Bitcoin is digital gold and it has allowed me to take the steps to secure the cash I already have…
The complaint challenged whether the ad was “misleading because it failed to make clear the risks associated with Bitcoin investments.” It found the ad “socially irresponsible,” by suggesting that “purchasing Bitcoin was a good or secure way to invest one’s savings or pension.”
In their defense, Coinfloor claimed that the ad did not suggest that the customer’s actions “constituted a wise or secure investment.” It denied the fact that the person in the ad implied that investors would make money through Bitcoin investments. According to Coinfloor, the ad spoke about how a customer, owned Bitcoin as part of a broader portfolio to hedge inflation. They claimed this was a “widely adopted strategy.”
Further, the ad carried the following disclaimer:
Investing in cryptocurrency involves significant risk and can result in the loss of your invested capital. You should not invest more than you can afford to lose.
However, ASA considered the disclaimer “insufficient to counteract the overall message” and did not ensure consumers “were made aware of the risk of loss of capital” and added:
The ad directly compared investing savings in Bitcoin with the use of regulated services, discouraging consumers from placing their money in banks.
In conclusion, ASA decided that the ad “must not appear again in its current form.” The agency reportedly told Coinfloor “to ensure” that any future ads need to make Bitcoin’s volatile nature “sufficiently clear” and that both Coinfloor and crypto are unregulated.