UK Bans Luno’s ‘Misleading’ Bitcoin Ad

The United Kingdom’s advertising watchdog has flagged the promotion of cryptocurrency exchange Luno, calling the message on the promotional posters ‘misleading’.

“If you’re seeing Bitcoin on the Underground, it’s time to buy,” a slogan on ad posters displayed in London’s Tube stations and on buses says. It was strategically placed in February with the corrections in the cryptocurrency market.

However, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) thinks that the advertisements underplay the risks associated with investments in digital assets like Bitcoin. The posters did not display any risk warnings either.

“We concluded that the ad irresponsibly suggested that engaging in Bitcoin investment through Luno was straightforward and easy, particularly given that the audience it addressed, the general public, were likely to be inexperienced in their understanding of cryptocurrencies,” ASA’s announcement on Wednesday stated.

Steps were taken in response to three complaints received by the advertising regulator against Luno’s promotion. While all three complaints claimed the ads to be misleading and ‘failed to illustrate the risk of the investment’, one went further to question ‘whether the ad took advantage of consumers’ inexperience or credulity.’

Though Luno is based in London, a large part of its users are in overseas markets, especially in Asia and Africa. The company revealed in April that only around 200,000 of its 7 million user base are from the UK.

Luno’s campaign was not the first to be flagged as the UK regulatory agency banned an ad by Coinfloor, another crypto exchange, calling that ‘misleading’ and ‘socially irresponsible’.

While crypto investments are not illegal in Britain, the market is unregulated. The local financial markets regulator issued multiple warnings on ‘risky’ crypto investments and banned the sale of retail crypto derivatives.

The ASA asked Luno ‘to ensure that their future marketing communications make sufficiently clear that the value of investments in Bitcoin was variable’. The exchange already responded to the watchdog and said that the ads will not appear in the same form again.

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