The UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has upheld its complaint against crypto derivatives platform BitMEX for placing a Bitcoin ad in the newspaper.
The watchdog received four complaints against the ad, which alleged that the advertisement was misleading and exaggerating the return on investment on Bitcoin. Two complaints also alleged that the company failed to propagate the risk of investment in cryptocurrencies.
Published on January 3, 2019, days after Bitcoin reached its peak value, BitMEX advertised in the Times newspaper, showcasing a graph for the price movement of Bitcoin over a span of 10 years.
A misleading ad or just an attempt to educate people?
“The horizontal axis was divided and labeled into six-month units showing dates between January 2009 and January 2019. The vertical axis was labeled ‘Bitcoin Price In US Dollars’ separated by decimal point value increments from $0.0001 to $100,000,” the ASA announcement stated.
“It included a footer on the front page of a national newspaper that read ‘Thanks Satoshi, we owe you one. Happy 10th Birthday, Bitcoin’, the graph and text next to it and a full-page article written by the CEO and co-founder of HDR Global Trading Arthur Hayes titled “Two sides of the coin: the bifurcated near-future of money,” it added.
Although the watchdog agency agreed that the ad was “a clear promotional statement of Bitcoin’s merits and did very little to warn consumers of any risks,” it concluded that people viewing the ad were “likely to be misled about bitcoin’s value and stability in recent years and therefore about what any investments they might previously have made would have yielded.”
The crypto platform, however, responded saying that the advertisement was entirely to educate the public as it does not offer buying and selling of digital currencies.
BitMEX is also reportedly facing a probe in the United States by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) under the suspicion of providing services in the country.
Meanwhile, in July, the platform recorded a fund outflow of $524 million, highest since the launch of the platform.