An ad for for Bitcoin exchange Coinfloor has been banned for irresponsibly suggesting that buying the cryptocurrency is a secure way to invest savings.
The regional press ad, seen on December 3, was titled: “There is no point in keeping your money in the bank,” and featured an image and the name of a woman, described as being aged 63, saying: “I come from a generation of savers, not spenders … 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…”
It went on: “To me, Bitcoin is digital gold and it has allowed me to take the steps to secure the cash I already have … there was just a simple sign-up process and then I could buy Bitcoin automatically straight from my bank account.”
Small print at the bottom of the ad stated: “Investing in cryptocurrencies involves significant risk and can result in the loss of your invested capital. You should not invest more than you can afford to lose.”
A reader, who believed the ad targeted retirees, complained to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) that it was misleading because it failed to make clear the risks associated with Bitcoin investments or that the Bitcoin market was unregulated in the UK. The reader also claimed it was socially irresponsible for suggesting that buying Bitcoin was a secure way to invest savings or a pension.
Coinfloor said all the views expressed in the ad were from the perspective of the featured customer, and her view did not represent Coinfloor’s view.
A disclaimer stated that cryptocurrencies involved significant risk and could result in the loss of invested capital, which Coinfloor considered to be sufficiently prominent.
Coinfloor said there was no suggestion in the ad that the customer’s actions constituted a wise or secure investment, and that neither Coinfloor nor the customer had claimed that investors would make money by investing in Bitcoin, or recommended that consumers should invest in Bitcoin.
The ASA said the disclaimer was not enough to counteract the overall message of the ad that buying Bitcoin represented a secure investment, while the fact that Coinfloor and the Bitcoin market were unregulated was information consumers needed to know in order to make informed decisions about the product.
While funds in savings accounts were commonly understood not to drop in value, Bitcoin investment portfolios could expose investors to losses, the watchdog added.
“We concluded that the ad irresponsibly suggested that purchasing Bitcoin through Coinfloor was a secure way to invest one’s savings or pension, particularly given that the audience it addressed were likely to be inexperienced in their understanding of cryptocurrencies, and therefore was in breach of the Code,” the ASA concluded.
It ruled that the ad must not appear again in its current form.
Coinfloor chief executive Obi Nwosu said: “We are disappointed with the decision of the ASA, given that this was our first major newspaper publication and we pride ourselves on being honest and transparent about the best performing asset of the last decade.
“We will be consulting with the ASA on all future adverts and have offered to start a dialogue to better understand how the Bitcoin industry can correctly educate consumers about the potential of this powerful technology.”