Adverts took advantage of consumers’ inexperience or credulity, regulator says
The posters, which were plastered across the London Underground and on London buses in February, featured a cartoon image of a Bitcoin and read: “If you’re seeing Bitcoin on the Underground, it’s time to buy.”
Three people complained the ad failed to illustrate the risk of the investmenta nd one complained it took advantage of consumers’ inexperience or credulity.
Luno Money, the company behind the ads, told the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) the ads would not appear again and that future ads would feature an appropriate risk warning.
Advertising rules stipulate ads for investments must be clear that the value of investments, unless guaranteed, could go down as well as up.
The ASA said it understood that initial capital invested in Bitcoin was subject to price fluctuations which could result in both losses and gains in value.
The ad was likely to have been seen by consumers who did not have extensive financial knowledge and experience of Bitcoin and would expect that it was regulated, which was not the case, the ASA added.
The ASA said: “We understood that Bitcoin investment was complex, volatile, and could expose investors to losses and considered that stood in contrast to the impression given by the ad, that investment was simple and conventional.
“For that reason, 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, and was therefore in breach of the Code.”
The ASA ruled the ads must not appear again.