U.K. advertising watchdog to tighten rules targeting misleading crypto ads

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), the United Kingdom’s advertising regulator, is stepping up its focus on crypto advertising, planning to introduce further guidance and to prevent misleading ads.

A spokesperson for the watchdog told The Block it plans to “carry out proactive monitoring and enforcement of crypto advertising and will also scope out additional guidance in the coming weeks.”

“We are also considering whether further action is needed in addition to current ongoing investigations of social influencers promoting cryptocurrency,” the spokesperson added.

The news comes a little over a month after the ASA forced Luno, a cryptocurrency exchange, to amend advertisements on the London Underground and London Buses that had encouraged consumers to buy bitcoin.

A red alert priority

The crackdown was first reported by the Financial Times, who quoted Miles Lockwood, director of complaints and investigations at the ASA, as stating that the body had earmarked crypto as a “red alert” priority.

“Cryptocurrency advertising is a key priority for us. We recognise the importance of the role we play currently in regulating ads to ensure they don’t mislead consumers about the risks of this product and are not irresponsible in how they promote them,” said the ASA spokesperson. “Crypto has exploded in recent years but there is a real danger that people may be drawn in to invest life savings that they later lose based on poor understanding.”

The same person added, however, that there is a “clear separation” between advertisements for legitimate crypto investments and those that are considered “scam ads.”