The UK’s advertising regulator has banned two ads by cryptocurrency exchange Crypto.com, declaring them “misleading” and ordering any future ads to make clear that cryptocurrency investments could go down as well as up.
Crypto.com was challenged by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) on an advert placed in the Daily Mail app in September 2021 that included the text “Buy Bitcoin with credit card instantly”.
A second ad placed in July in the Love Balls mobile game app included the text “earn up to 3.5% [per annum]”, a figure that later increased to 8.5%.
The ASA upheld all five of its challenges to the two Crypto.com ads. It said the adverts failed to make clear the risk of cryptocurrency investments, took advantage of consumers’ inexperience and failed to make clear the limitations of purchasing cryptocurrency with a credit card.
It also said the claim that consumers could “earn up to 8.5%” was “misleading and could not be substantiated”.
The Singapore-headquartered cryptocurrency firm claims it has 10 million users across 90 countries.
In its “values” page, Crypto.com says “we think about the message we want to deliver before we speak, and know what is important and what is not”.
The ASA has told Crypto.com to ensure that any message it wants to deliver in the future makes clear the cryptocurrency market is unregulated in the UK, and that any marketing does “not irresponsibly take advantage of consumers’ lack of experience”.
Crypto.com has been on a marketing push as it seeks to capitalise on growing mainstream interest in cryptocurrencies and associated tech trends web3 and NFTs.
It recently shared a video advert in which actor Matt Damon likened cryptocurrency investing to climbing Mount Everest and the Wright brothers’ first flight.
UKTN has approached Crypto.com for comment.
Crypto.com – the trading name of Forisgfs UK Ltd – is not the first cryptocurrency advert to get in hot water with the ASA. In the last few months cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase, pizza delivery company Papa John’s and Arsenal Football Club have all been reprimanded by the regulator.
A UK crackdown on cryptocurrency and NFT ads could be on the horizon. Ministers are reportedly exploring ways to regulate the sector, such as granting the Financial Conduct Authority greater powers.