Digital Assets: The UK’s ASA Bans Bitcoin Ads By Luno Money On Buses And Underground

May 26, 2021 | Digital Assets, News
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The British Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) received four complaints against the ads.

Luno Money, a cryptocurrency exchange service, prominently displayed ads on the London Underground and London Buses in February that said “If you’re seeing Bitcoin on the Underground (or bus), it’s time to buy”. The ASA received four complaints against the ads and after investigation, banned Luno from displaying them. (ASA)

The ASA’s decision

Breach of CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1  3.3 (Misleading advertising), and 14.4 (Financial products)

  • The initial capital invested in bitcoin was subject to price fluctuations
  • These could result in both losses and gains in value
  • The statement “If you’re seeing bitcoin on the Underground, it’s time to buy,” could lead consumers to invest in the crypto
  • The buses and underground were “untargeted” media
  • The ads could therefore be seen by consumers who did not have extensive financial knowledge and experience of bitcoin
  • However, neither Luno nor the bitcoin market, in general, were regulated within the UK
  • Consumers, therefore, had no recourse to services such as the Financial Services Compensation Scheme or the Financial Ombudsman Service.
  • Luno should have clarified in the ads that the company and the bitcoin market were both unregulated
  • Further, the ads contained no warning that the value of bitcoin could fluctuate up or down
  • The ads were, therefore, misleading.

 Breach of CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 1.3 (Social responsibility), and 14.1 (Financial products)

  • Consumers would interpret the statement “it’s time to buy” as a call to action
  • The simple statement gave the impression that bitcoin investment was straightforward and accessible
  • The audience it addressed, the general public, were likely to be inexperienced in their understanding of cryptocurrencies,
  • However, bitcoin investment was complex, volatile, and could expose investors to losses
  • The ads irresponsibly suggested that engaging in bitcoin investment through Luno was straightforward and easy

Order by the ASA

“We told Luno Money Ltd to ensure that their future marketing communications made sufficiently clear that the value of investments in Bitcoin was variable and could go down as well as up, that Luno Money Ltd and the Bitcoin market were unregulated, and that they did not irresponsibly take advantage of consumers’ lack of experience or credulity by implying that Bitcoin investment was straightforward or accessible.”

Related Story:  Charlie Munger Shreds Bitcoin                                                

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