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UK Watchdog Bans Coinbase, Papa John’s, eToro Crypto Ads

The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority has banned a total of seven crypto-related ads as a matter of priority.

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The UK flag. Image: Shutterstock.

The United Kingdom’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has banned seven cryptocurrency-related promotions as part of a wider focus on potentially harmful crypto ads, per the BBC

The ASA has targeted crypto promotions from Coinbase Europe, eToro, Papa John’s, Luno Money, Exmo Exchange, Payward, and Coinburp. 

All seven ads were “banned for irresponsibly taking advantage of consumers’ inexperience and for failing to illustrate the risk of the investment,” the ASA said. 

Papa John’s, a popular pizza chain, offered “free Bitcoin worth £10,” as well as telling customers that they would save £15 (~$19) if they spent £30 (~$39) or more on pizza. 

The pizza chain also linked their Bitcoin promotion to “Bitcoin pizza day,” which marks the first time Bitcoin was ever used in a transaction—to buy a pizza in May 2010. 

The ASA said this promotion “trivialized what was a serious and potentially costly financial decision, especially in the context of the intended audience who were likely to have limited knowledge of cryptocurrency.” 

Though the Payward ad had a disclaimer, its cautions were unclear. Thus, the ASA said “consumers would ot have had the time to comprehend the relevant information in the disclaimer, if seen at all.” 

The ASA and crypto 

This is not the first time the ASA has targeted the crypto industry. 

The ASA targeted a Luno ad in May this year, which said “if you’re seeing Bitcoin on the Underground, it’s time to buy.” The ASA considered that ban to be irresponsible. 

The watchdog has also taken aim at Floki Inu ads on the London Underground. In November, the advertising watchdog began investigating these ads. A spokesperson for the ASA said “I don’t think cryptocurrency ads should be on the transportation network. They’re unethical.” 

Miles Lockwood, director of complaints and investigations at the ASA, is equally critical of misleading crypto ads. 

“Consumers need to know about the risks of investing in crypto assets and companies should make sure that their ads aren’t misleading or socially irresponsible by taking advantage of consumers’ lack of awareness around these complex and volatile products,” said Lockwood.

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