UK advertising watchdog cuts ‘irresponsible and misleading’ Bitcoin ad

The advert, which was alleged to have targeted retirees, was deemed to be misleading and irresponsible by a U.K. advertising authority.

The United Kingdom Advertising Standards Authority has upheld a complaint lodged against cryptocurrency exchange Coinfloor for its publication of a Bitcoin (BTC) advertisement in a regional news outlet.

The ad, published in the Northamptonshire Telegraph on Dec. 3, 2020, was deemed to have targeted retirees, according to the complainant, who claimed the ad was misleading and socially irresponsible.

The ad led with the title “There is no point keeping your money in the bank…” and featured an image of a woman, aged 63, describing her decision to convert part of her pension into Bitcoin. The retiree depicted in the advert was quoted as saying:“More and more people are waking up to the savings power of Bitcoin… Today there is no point keeping it in the bank — the interest rates are insulting. […] That is why when I received my pension, I put a third of it into gold, a third of it into silver and the remainder into Bitcoin.”

The supposed Coinfloor customer depicted in the advert even referenced Bitcoin’s oft-quoted reputation as digital gold. 

It continued, “To me, Bitcoin is digital gold and it has allowed me to take the steps to secure the cash I already have… Thanks to Coinfloor’s Autobuy service, buying and holding Bitcoin has never been easier…”

The advert was alleged to be misleading because “It failed to make clear the risks associated with Bitcoin investments, including loss of capital, and that neither Coinfloor Ltd nor the general Bitcoin market were regulated in the U.K.”

The complaint was upheld on this point, with the ASA noting that Coinfloor had not sufficiently conveyed Bitcoin’s volatility.

The ad was also alleged to be socially misleading because “It suggested that purchasing Bitcoin was a good or secure way to invest one’s savings or pension.”

The complaint was also upheld on this point, with the ASA judging that Coinfloor had represented Bitcoin investments as being safer than they really were.

The ASA concluded that the advert must not appear again in its current form. Any future adverts from Coinfloor must make clear the fact that Bitcoin investments could decrease in value, state that both Coinfloor Ltd and Bitcoin are unregulated in the U.K., and must not irresponsibly suggest Bitcoin is a secure investment of one’s savings or pension.

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