An ad campaign telling the public it’s time to buy bitcoin was banned after the ad’s watchdog deemed it irresponsible and deceptive.
The high-profile campaign, which has run widely on the London Underground and the capital’s bus network since December, ran with the slogan “If you see bitcoins on the tube, it’s time to buy.” .
The Advertising Standards Authority’s decision to ban ads comes a week after the price of the world’s largest digital currency fell 30% in one day – to half of the record high of over $ 64,000 (£ 45,256) reached in mid-April. – after a crackdown by the Chinese government against the use of crypto-currencies by banks.
The ASA has received complaints that the ads did not illustrate the risks of investing and trading Bitcoin, which is not regulated in the UK, and therefore misleading. The watchdog also received a complaint that the ads “took advantage of the inexperience or gullibility of consumers.”
In its ruling against Luno, the cryptocurrency exchange which is part of a group that also owns CoinDesk, the advertising watchdog said the choice to display the advertisement on London Underground and buses meant that finance novices were targeted.
The ASA said the simplicity of the ‘time to buy’ statement “made investing in bitcoin seem easy and accessible.”
“We understood that investing in bitcoin is complex, volatile, and can expose investors to losses,” the ASA said. “It contrasted with the announcement. The audience he was addressing, the general public, was likely inexperienced in their understanding of cryptocurrencies. “
The ASA banned the ad campaign for violating the UK code on deceptive and irresponsible advertising. Luno said it would carry an “appropriate risk warning” in future campaigns.
In March, the ASA banned a similar-styled full-page ad in a local newspaper that told readers “there’s no point in keeping your money in the bank,” including a testimonial describing bitcoin as “gold. digital”.
Bitcoin critics have predicted a market crash for months, with some comparing its meteoric rise to other financial bubbles such as ‘tulip mania’ and the South Sea bubble in the 17th and 18th centuries.
Earlier this month, Tesla CEO and staunch cryptocurrency supporter Elon Musk posted a series of tweets that appeared to show he had turned back on his support for decentralized coins. Musk has put on hold his plan to let Tesla customers pay for their cars in bitcoin over environmental concerns over the energy required to operate them.
“Cryptocurrency is a good idea on many levels and we believe it has a bright future, but it can’t cost the environment dearly”, he tweeted.