UK’s Ad Control Authority Bans Bitcoin Advertisement on the Public Transport

An advertisement campaign promoting the purchase of Bitcoin has been banned in the UK by the country’s respective authority namely British Advertising Standards Authority (BASA). Ban has been imposed on the basis that according to BASA advertisements such as “Time To Buy” are misguiding and misleading, particularly when they are printed on the public transport vehicles such as buses.

If you are in the UK and visiting London, coming across ads like “Time To Buy” is quite usual. In fact, such ads re-assure a local as well as a visitor that he or she is actually in the UK. Such type of ads can be seen in great numbers at cubes, local buses including throughout London Underground. All these adverts speak one thing i.e. buy Bitcoin and have been there since February 2021.

However, on the pretext of being misguiding and misleading, BASA has decided to ban such adverts immediately. BASA was of the view that it has been receiving several complaints against these ads as they did not provide for “risk disclosures”.

Under British law, while crypto trading is a legal business, however, disclosure of the risks associated with it, is mandatory. In case any advert does not provide for risk disclosures then the same can be banned at the sole discretion of BASA. Even if a crypto trading firm does not make full disclosure, then punitive action can be taken against such a firm. The only difference would be that the authority taking action against a crypto business will be taken by the respective UK authority.

BASA claimed that one of the claimants claimed that these adverts are in fact taking advantage of the customers. When BASA examined the adverts, it concluded that the adverts are trying to reach out to a particular class of people. It said that particularly those people have been targeted who are mostly daily wagers and average income earners. These people are also not aware of the fact that almost all crypto platforms are non-regulated, claimed BASA. Such promotional campaign could potentially harm these people financially and therefore should be discouraged, stated BASA.

After considering several other factors, BASA came to the finding that a ban on these adverts is necessary. The authority explained further that most of the ad readers would genuinely think it is time to take an action. They would also be misguided as they are not wary of the fact that crypto trading is not that simple and straightforward. Instead, it is a highly volatile, expensive, and complex investment pursuit with which the general public is not so well aware.

BASA then further concluded that the people behind these ads have actually violated the authority’s Code. The authority is therefore within its lawful right to take action even if it involves banning advertisements.

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