What precautions should crypto asset advertising take?

Recently there was the case of an advertisement in the United Kingdom aimed at the pensioner group. In previous notes we pointed out that the investment of pension funds in bitcoin was a fact in the United States. With the exponential growth that bitcoin continues to have, it is extremely attractive to invest a percentage of pension funds in this cryptocurrency.

However, everyone should be aware that the currency is highly volatile, so while it can be beneficial if the price goes up, it can also have a tragic outcome if the opposite happens. The investment of pension funds in these crypto assets implies risking money that represents the last livelihood of many pensioners, it is money that cannot be put into play as if there were more to replace it. Precisely for this reason, Bill Gates pointed out that investing in Bitcoin is valid or "acceptable" for people who do not depend on this money, but can afford to invest it in this risky market. Perhaps it can be considered an overly cautious thought, but the truth is that the importance of these funds deserves it.

Despite everything, investing pension funds in these crypto assets is a growing practice. With which, if you want to advertise for the investment in cryptocurrencies, you must give real information and not that which may mislead about the nature of these investments.

In this sense, the UK Advertising Standards Authority confirmed that the advertising disseminated by the Exchange Coinfloor was misleading and socially irresponsible, it indicated Cointelegraph. Based on what? The ad featured a 63-year-old woman explaining her decision to convert part of her pension to bitcoin: “More and more people are realizing the saving power of Bitcoin. Nowadays it makes no sense to keep it in the bank, the interest rates are insulting (…) So, when I received my pension, I put a third in gold, a third in silver and the rest in Bitcoin ”Similarly, another person equated bitcoin as “digital gold".

Given these statements, the Advertising Standards Authority indicated that the announcement did not indicate the risks associated with Bitcoin, nor the fact that the bitcoin market is a deregulated market in the United Kingdom.

Perhaps one of the points in favor of the announcement is that the lady was not going to invest her entire pension in bitcoin, but only a third part (risk diversification), keeping the other two thirds in "safe" commodities. However, while the advertising did not present the cryptocurrency as a “safe investment” (which would have been, in such a case, obviously misleading), it is true that it might be advisable to include a disclaimer that alerts viewers to its volatility and the fact that it is a deregulated market (where there is no public entity to turn to in case of inconvenience).

Finally, although people should have due diligence to obtain this information on their own, the effects that it could have if someone actually equates a bitcoin to gold is quite worrying, and based on that they decide to invest their savings.

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Marilú Lazo
Lawyer from the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú (PUCP). Director of The Crypto Legal Blog, she has experience in corporate advice, consumer protection, as well as in matters of personal data protection and new technologies.

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