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The Luno cryptocurrency exchange service posters – featured on the London Underground network and on London buses this year – featured a cartoon image of a bitcoin with the words “If you see Bitcoin in the metro, it’s time to buy. “
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said on Wednesday that the ads should no longer appear in their current form and that they did not highlight the risks.
It comes a week after the price of bitcoin collapsed 30% in a single day, leaving many retail investors who had bought bitcoin significantly out of pocket. It also comes two weeks after the Governor of the Bank of England said cryptocurrency investors should be prepared to lose all of their money.
The watchdog said it received four complaints about the ad. Three of them were from people who believed the ad did not illustrate the risk of the investment and accused it of being misleading. One said the ad took advantage of consumers’ inexperience or gullibility.
“We considered that consumers would interpret the ‘time to buy’ statement as a call to action and that the simplicity of the statement made investing in bitcoin seem easy and accessible,” said the ASA.
The regulator added: “Investing in bitcoin was complex, volatile and could expose investors to losses and considered this to contrast with the impression given by the announcement that investing was simple and conventional. “
“For this reason, we concluded that the announcement irresponsibly suggests that engaging in bitcoin investing through Luno is straightforward and easy,” he added.
He told Luno to ensure that his future marketing communications make it “sufficiently clear that the value of bitcoin investments is variable and may increase as well.” They should also point out that Luno and the bitcoin market are unregulated.
Luno, which is part of a group that also owns the CoinDesk website, did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.
Susannah Streeter, senior investment and markets analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said in a statement that regulators are increasingly concerned about the risks cryptocurrency investments may present to consumers.
“Cryptocurrencies are very complex and are very difficult to value, not least because the rules of the game can change so quickly,” she said.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who helped fuel bullish sentiment when his company announced in February that it had bought $ 1.5 billion worth of bitcoin, struck a blow earlier this month by announcing that the automaker automobile had suspended purchases of vehicles using cryptocurrency for environmental reasons.
The price of Bitcoin was increased this week after Musk said he spoke with Bitcoin miners about how to make cryptocurrency greener.
The bitcoin price at 3:49 a.m. ET was $ 40,445.17 and it has climbed about 4% in the past 24 hours, according to CoinDesk.