What’s the latest news from the world of cryptocurrency? We monitor all the latest moves and keep you updated regularly with the key developments.
Please be aware that the UK financial regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority, has issued repeated warnings about the risks faced by those who invest in cryptocurrency, stating that all funds are at risk and investors could lose everything.
Cryptocurrency trading is not regulated in the UK and no compensation arrangements are in place.
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23 September: XRP Rallies As Legal Decision Looms
Ripple (XRP) rallied by 25% last night as optimistic speculators bet on the outcome of a legal fight which could determine the future of the cryptocurrency.
XRP was trading at 48p this morning, up from 37p yesterday morning, and from 30p this time last month. The token’s good fortunes may reflect a boost in investor sentiment following a legal filing on Monday this week.
There’s been an ongoing legal battle since 2020 between Ripple Labs, the organisation behind XRP, and the US Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) over whether the token is a security or a commodity.
In Monday’s filing, Ripple Labs asked a judge to make a final decision on whether XRP is a security based on the facts presented so far, rather than going to trial. The ruling is expected to land by mid-December.
Crypto markets are heavily influenced by sentiment, and so the judge’s decision is sure to move XRP’s price one way or another.
The FCA reminds would-be traders that crypto assets are unregulated and high-risk. It says this means people are “very unlikely to have any protection if things go wrong, so people should be prepared to lose all their money if they choose to invest in them”.
Note: investing in cryptocurrencies is speculative and all your capital is at risk. Cryptocurrencies are given to volatile price swings. The UK’s financial watchdog, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), issues regular warnings about the crypto industry.
Last month, the UK’s Financial Services and Markets Bill contained provisions to regulate the cryptocurrency market. At present, the market remains unregulated which means investors have no legal protections and no access to compensation if something goes wrong, such as a provider going bankrupt.
25 August: Cryptocurrencies ‘As Popular As Traditional Investments’
Twenty-somethings remain enthusiastic about investing in cryptocurrencies despite a rollercoaster ride in prices for the digital asset over the past year, according to research from WisdomTree, Andrew Michael writes.
Bitcoin, the best-known cryptocurrency, currently trades at just over £18,000. In the last 12 months, its price has swung from a high of just over £58,000 to a low of £15,000, according to CoinMarketCap.
WisdomTree, a sponsor of exchange-traded funds and products, said a quarter (27%) of young British adults aged between 18 and 30 are investing in cryptocurrencies in about the same proportion (28%) as those favouring stocks and shares individual savings accounts.
The company says the adoption of cryptocurrencies is increasing among younger investors, adding that its survey found nearly nine-in-10 respondents (89%) are ‘somewhat familiar’ and one-in-five (21%) ‘very familiar’ with digital assets.
WisdomTree also says younger investors are becoming more discerning about investing in crypto: “Survey respondents suggested they no longer care about endorsements from high profile figures and just 11% would be more likely to invest because of a celebrity.”
The company added that, increasingly, would-be investors want to know more about the fundamentals behind cryptocurrenices and have more educational materials available to them.
Of those questioned, seven-in-10 (70%) also told WisdomTree they were ‘somewhat familiar’ with Non-Fungible Tokens. These are unique images or videos akin to digital works of art but with built-in code proving ownership.
Jason Guthrie, head of digital assets at WisdomTree, said: “Despite a high level of familiarity with cryptocurrencies, seeking out high quality information remains a priority among young adults, and rightly so.
“Many events have unfolded across crypto and financial markets in 2022. This is encouraging investors to seek out more information to educate themselves. Cryptocurrencies are maturing into a traditional asset class and, as with any other asset class, it is essential that you do your research, know what you’re investing in and have a long-term investment horizon.”
4 August: Revolut Adds 20+ New Cryptocurrencies
Neo-bank Revolut has added 22 new cryptocurrencies, bringing its UK offering to more than 80 tokens.
Newly available tokens include the likes of ApeCoin, Request and Ethereum Classic. Along with popular tokens like bitcoin and ethereum, it brings Revolut’s total number of tradeable tokens to 82.
Using the Revolut app, customers can set up a stop or limit order to automate crypto purchases, use a recurring buy feature to average out market volatility, or round up spare change during their daily shopping to invest in cryptocurrency.
Revolut’s Crypto General Manager Emil Urmanshin said: “This is another big year of crypto, and we’ve given a big boost to our offering while empowering people to take more control of their finances and giving them safe access to new tools and services being built in crypto the space.”
21 July: Musk’s Tesla Liquidates Bulk Of Bitcoin Holdings
Elon Musk’s Tesla Motors has sold 75% of its bitcoin (BTC) holdings in recent weeks, converting the cryptocurrency into around £782 million-worth of US Dollars ($936).
In its second quarterly report for 2022, out this week, the automaker said its bitcoin holdings were impairing the company’s profitability.
Bitcoins were worth almost £50,000 each in December last year, but have crashed in value in 2022, and are currently worth less than £20,000 each.
The electric vehicle manufacturer made headlines in February 2021 when it was revealed to have invested 1.5 billion USD in BTC.
In May last year, Tesla Motors stopped accepting BTC as payment for its vehicles. At that time, Tesla founder Elon Musk said it would not be selling any bitcoin.
Glen Goodman, eToro crypto consultant and author, commented: “When push comes to shove, Elon is pure business, and Tesla offloading its Bitcoin holdings was a dispassionate accounting decision to raise more cash.
“Whatever his views of Bitcoin as a potential global currency, he made it clear that – for now at least – the word ‘cash’ is synonymous with ‘dollars’, not with Bitcoin.”
21 July: Proposed Regulation Ushers In New Era Of Crypto Regulation
The Financial Services and Markets Bill, published yesterday, contains provisions to regulate the cryptocurrency market.
At present, the market is unregulated, which means investors have no legal protections and no access to compensation if something goes wrong, such as a provider going bankrupt.
The Financial Conduct Authority has repeatedly reminded cryptocurrency investors that their capital is at risk and that they should be prepared to lose all their money.
However, the Treasury has previously expressed interest in promoting the UK as a centre for the development of digital payment technology, putting the two organisations potentially at odds over how to regulate a complicated and fast-moving market.
The new Bill states: “To ensure the UK remains at the forefront of new technologies and innovations, the Bill will enable certain types of stablecoins to be regulated as a form of payment in the UK.”
Stablecoins are a form of cryptocurrency whose value is ‘pegged’ to a traditional ‘fiat’ currency, such as Sterling or the US Dollar. This is intended to make them safer and more secure than unpegged cryptos such as bitcoin and Ethereum.
However, the stablecoin sector has not been immune to turmoil, as demonstrated by the problems that afflicted TerraUSD in recent weeks.
The government will also work to understand the application of Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) to the lifecycle of a UK sovereign debt instrument. DLT – often referred to as ‘blockchain’ – underpins the cryptocurrency sector.
13 July: Strong Regulation Will Foster Innovation To Avoid Future Crypto Winters
Sir John Cunliffe, deputy governor of the Bank of England with responsibility for financial stability, has warned of the need for greater regulation of the crypto market as a result of the current ‘crypto winter’, which has seen dramatic falls in the value of assets.
In a speech at the British High Commissioner’s Residence in Singapore, Sir John said: “In recent months we have seen a dramatic bout of instability and losses in crypto markets – dubbed by some commentators as the ‘crypto-winter’.
“A widespread collapse of crypto-asset valuations has cascaded through the crypto ecosystem and generated a number of high-profile firm failures. The totemic indicator of the crypto winter is that Bitcoin, the signature crypto asset, has lost 70% of its value since November.
“Regulators, of course, have not been slow to comment. And, true to type, I want to pull out four lessons I think we can draw from this episode:
- technology does not change the underlying risks in economics and finance;
- regulators should continue and accelerate their work to put in place effective regulation of the use of crypto technologies in finance;
- this regulation should be constructed on the iron principle of ‘same risk, same regulatory outcome’ ;
- crypto technologies offer the prospect of substantive innovation and improvement in finance. But to be successful and sustainable innovation has to happen within a framework in which risks are managed: people don’t fly for long in unsafe aeroplanes.”
Sir John said the success of crypto depends on effective regulation: “It would also be unwise for innovators and the authorities alike to forget that to be successful and sustainable, technologically-driven innovation needs regulation.
“A succession of crypto-winters will not, in the end, help the deployment and adoption of these technologies and the reaping of the benefits that they may offer. History also has examples of technologies that have been put aside/ shunned because of dramatic early failures. While the causes of the Hindenburg Zeppelin disaster are still debated, it is very probable that the general development of the use of hydrogen in transport was put aside for decades as a result.”
Commenting on the speech, Petr Kozyakov, CEO of payments firm Mercuryo, said: “It’s incredibly encouraging to see a leading Bank of England official acknowledging the importance of regulation in fostering innovation in crypto and acknowledging the great potential of this technology.
“We echo his sentiments – as does the wider public and business community. Two thirds (68%) of British people tell us they want to see cryptocurrency become more regulated, while 24% of UK firms that don’t currently use cryptocurrency cite a lack of regulatory clarity as a reason why.
“As more regulators and governments mobilise to introduce regulation I hope they ensure that industry leaders are part of the process. We want to be part of the solution to ensure the frameworks being explored work for everyone.
“Far from a Hindenburg disaster, we want to see crypto soar into orbit, with effective regulation the key to opening it up to even wider adoption and utility.”
11 July: Crypto Hawk Alder To Chair UK Financial Watchdog
The UK’s troubled financial watchdog has named a Hong Kong regulation veteran as its next chairman, writes Andrew Michael.
Ashley Alder will join the Financial Conduct Authority in January 2023 on a five-year term when he takes over from interim chair, Richard Lloyd.
Mr Alder’s appointment, decided by HM Treasury, was one of the first announcements made by Nadhim Zahawi, who became Chancellor of the Exchequer last week.
A lawyer by background, Mr Alder has run Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) for the past 11 years having initially joined the organisation as director of corporate finance.
During his time at the SFC, he helped introduce measures to strengthen the territory’s financial system, pushed for greater focus on climate finance, and imposed sizeable fines on banking giants.
Mr Alder’s appointment comes as the FCA attempts to reconfigure itself after criticism over its handling of recent scandals including the failure of Woodford Investment Management, as well as the collapse of mini-bond provider London Capital & Finance.
The FCA is responsible for authorising more than 50,000 financial firms. Its brief extends to ensuring that consumers are treated fairly and that markets run smoothly. It also has the powers to fine regulated companies and individuals and can bar miscreant bankers, brokers and advisers from conducting financial business.
As a regulator, Mr Alder is known for his hawkish stance on cryptocurrencies. These are likely to chime with the FCA’s current view, given that the regulator has issued multiple warnings to consumers in connection with cryptocurrenices over the past two years.
The FCA has multiple concerns about high-return investments based around cryptoassets. These include consumer protection, price volatility, product complexity, charges, and the way such products are promoted.
But earlier this year, the then Chancellor and now prospective Conservative Party leadership contender, Rishi Sunak, announced his intention to make the UK a global hub for cryptoasset technology and investment, potentially stoking tensions between the Treasury and the FCA, given the regulator’s stance.
However, the appointment of Mr Zahawi, another prospective Conservative Party leadership contender, as Chancellor has left questions about the direction of the UK’s crypto policy.
5 July: Crypto Ownership Numbers Double Year On Year
The number of UK adults that hold or have held cryptocurrencies has almost doubled since last year, according to new analysis, writes Mark Hooson.
HMRC and Kantar Public’s research found 10% of UK adults said they had ever held cryptocurrency. That figure is up from 5.7% in January 2021, based on Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) data.
Men were more likely to have held crypto than women (13% compared to 6%). Younger people were more likely to have held crypto than older cohorts, and people in ethnic minorities were more likely to have held crypto than white people.
Of those who held crypto assets when the research was conducted, 85% were aged 25-44 and 90% had annual incomes of more than £50,000.
Other noteworthy findings included:
- almost one in five (18%) had sold off their entire holdings
- 11% of those who held crypto assets had purchased stablecoins
- almost a third (30%) had invested less than £100
- more than half (52%) bought into cryptocurrency as a ‘fun investment’
- almost one in 10 (8%) invested in cryptocurrency to ‘gamble’
- more than 4 in 10 (43%) of holders had money saved in an ISA account
- most (63%) of crypto owners who sold assets said they made a profit
- 14% of sellers lost money and 14% broke even
- 24% made profits of £500 or less
- 3% lost more than £5,000.
5 July: EuroCoin Launched With Peg To Euro
A new stablecoin pegged to the euro (EUR) has been launched on the Ethereum blockchain, writes Mark Hooson.
EuroCoin (EUROC) is the first major euro stablecoin. The asset is backed by full reserves of the euro, meaning €1 is held in reserve for every EUROC issued. As a stablecoin, the value of one EUROC should remain at one EUR.
The stablecoin is live on a few exchanges, including BitPanda, Bitget and Huobi Global, and is expected to go live on Binance US, Bitstamp and FTX by mid-July.
EUROC’s issuer, Circle, expects it to launch on other blockchains by the end of the year.
Circle CEO and founder Jeremy Allaire said: “There is clear market demand for a digital currency denominated in euros, the world’s second most traded currency after the US dollar.
“With USDC (US dollar stablecoin) and EuroCoin, Circle is helping unlock a new era of fast, inexpensive, secure and interoperable value exchange worldwide.”
Even though stablecoins are meant to maintain their 1:1 pegging with the currency they’re associated with, market volatility in 2022 has seen some, such as Terra and Tether, lose their parity with the US dollar.
1 July: European Union Agrees Framework To Regulate Crypto
EU regulators will attempt to tame the “wild west” of the cryptocurrency market with a new regulatory framework agreed this week.
Under the Markets in Crypto-Assets (MiCA) initiative, crypto issuers and exchanges will have to follow new rules if they want to operate within the region.
The measures are intended to protect consumers. They include provision for asking stablecoin issuers (stablecoins are linked to fiat currencies such as $ and £) to have sufficient liquidity in their reserves to cope with mass withdrawals, as well as daily transaction limits on stablecoins that become too large.
The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) will be able to ban or restrict platforms that fail to protect consumers.
Announcing the news, European Parliament lead negotiator Stefan Berger said: “Today, we put order in the Wild West of crypto assets and set clear rules for a harmonized market that will provide legal certainty for crypto asset issuers, guarantee equal rights for service providers and ensure high standards for consumers and investors”.
Since the UK is no longer an EU member, crypto issuers and exchanges operating in the UK won’t be subject to MiCA rules. As things stand, the cryptocurrency market is unregulated in the UK.
However, the government does have plans to bring stablecoins such as Tether into existing payments regulation in order to become a recognised form of payment.
Petr Kozyakov, CEO of payment services company Mercuryo, says the EU move is positive: “This provisional agreement by EU regulators to safeguard the crypto sector is a welcome step in the right direction.
“There is a real desire for a clear set of rules to protect individuals and businesses who have adopted cryptocurrencies already, to weed out bad actors, and to encourage others to adopt crypto as a result.”
Mercuryo research suggests there is strong appetite for crypto regulation in the UK. According to the firm’s data, 68% of British people say they want to see cryptocurrency become more regulated, while 61% worry about falling victim to a cryptocurrency scam, and 47% feel their money is safer in other forms of investment than in a cryptocurrency.
Mr Kozyakov says this sentiment is echoed by UK businesses: “Among those that do not use cryptocurrency, one in four cite a lack of regulatory clarity as a reason why while 37% say it is because they don’t understand cryptocurrency well enough.
“Another quarter are concerned about the risk of scams for their customers, mirroring consumers’ security concerns.”
The research suggests 64% of UK businesses are apprehensive about introducing or accepting cryptocurrency payments, despite 52% also recognising that it could increase the size of their customer base.
30 May: Luna 2.0 Sell-Offs Crash Price
Luna, the cryptocurrency that collapsed the Terra blockchain, has crashed in value after relaunching last week.
Investors in the original project were gifted ‘Luna 2.0’ tokens on Friday, 27 May, to compensate them for their losses following the original Terra’s collapse (see story below).
However, widespread sell-offs of those ‘airdropped’ tokens on Friday saw the asset drop from around $19.50 to around $6 this morning, representing a drop of almost 70%.
Investors who held more than $10,000 worth of Luna pre-collapse received a 30% reimbursement of the token last week, with the remaining 70% to be handed out over the next two years in a bid to reduce the impact of widespread sell-offs that could tank Luna’s value.
27 May: Luna Relaunches On New Blockchain
The Luna cryptocurrency is relaunching on a new blockchain, two weeks after its involvement in the collapse of the Terra blockchain.
The original Terra blockchain had two tokens, luna and stablecoin terraUSD (UST). Luna played a part in pegging UST to the US Dollar, but when UST lost its 1:1 pegging with the US fiat currency, the Terra algorithm began issuing more luna coins to rebalance the system. The hyperinflation caused luna to lose nearly all its value.
Referred to as Terra 2.0 by the project’s creators, the new project will cast off the terraUSD (UST) stablecoin.
Previous luna and UST holders will receive new tokens via airdrop today (Friday 27 May). Those with more than 10,000 tokens will receive 30% now and the remaining 70% over two years to prevent another crash caused by sell-offs.
17 May: Emirates To Allow Air Travellers To Pay With Bitcoin
Cryptocurrencies are a digital means of exchange which use cryptography to make transactions secure. Blockchain is the database technology at the heart of nearly all cryptocurrencies.
Headquartered in Dubai, Emirates says it will recruit staff to create NFT collectibles that will be tradable on its website. NFTs are digital assets that provide the owner with unique online versions of artwork, music and video.
The company has not said when the new features would be available.
The airline introduced virtual reality technology on its website and the Emirates app more than five years ago, providing three-dimensional, 360-degree view experiences of its onboard cabin interiors.
25 April: Fidelity To Allow Workers To Bet Retirement On Bitcoin
Investment giant Fidelity Investments is planning to give US workers the option of adding cryptocurrency into the asset mix of their retirement savings plans.
US 401(k) retirement accounts typically feature asset classes such as stocks and shares, bonds and cash.
The move by Fidelity, as reported by the Wall Street Journal, to offer workplace investors the option of adding Bitcoin to their savings accounts, would be a first. Cryptocurrency remains controversial because of its huge volatility and the possibility of incurring significant losses.
The crypto option will be available to the 23,000 employers that use Fidelity to administer their retirement accounts by the summer. With around £8.5 trillion in assets under administration, the fund manager is the largest retirement plan provider in the US.
Fidelity said there is growing interest from retirement plan sponsors for vehicles that allow them to provide their workers with access to digital assets in defined contribution pension plans.
Such plans enable workers to build up a savings pot from which a pension is eventually drawn.
Despite the apparent enthusiasm to incorporate crypto into retirement planning arrangements, US regulators have urged caution against accommodating digital assets within 401 (k) arrangements.
Last month, the Department of Labor urged plan sponsors to exercise “extreme care” before they considered adding a cryptocurrency option into the investment menu of their retirement accounts.
The warnings echo the stance taken by the UK financial regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), in relation to crypto assets.
The FCA frequently warns consumers about the volatile nature of the crypto market, reminding would-be investors that crypto assets in the UK are unregulated, high risk and offer nothing in the way of financial protection if things go wrong.
7 April: Meta Mulls In-App ‘Zuck Bucks’ Currency
Meta, the social media giant formerly known as Facebook, is considering introducing an in-app currency. The tokens have been dubbed ‘Zuck Bucks’ by company insiders, referencing Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.
Unlike a cryptocurrency, Zuck Bucks would have no value outside of the Meta app-sphere, making them comparable to those found in mobile games such as Roblox’s ‘robux’.
Such currencies have garnered media coverage because children have used their parents’ payment details to buy hundreds of pounds-worth of tokens.
The in-app currency development follows February’s winding down of the Facebook-funded Diem stablecoin cryptocurrency, following regulatory challenges.
Speaking at the South By Southwest conference last month, Mr Zuckerberg signalled that Meta has not given up on blockchain technology, telling reporters that non-fungible tokens (NFTs) would soon be coming to its platforms.
4 April: Chancellor Tells Royal Mint To Create NFT
Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak MP has told the UK’s producer of notes and coins to create a non-fungible token (NFT) as part of a move to mark the UK’s forward-looking approach to the cryptocurrency industry.
NFTs are digital assets that represent real-world objects, such as unique works of art or mementoes of memorable sporting moments. NFTs, along with cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, use blockchain, a multi-point computer ledger designed to safely store digital data.
Speaking today at the Innovate Finance Global Summit, John Glen, economic secretary to the Treasury, announced that Mr Sunak has asked the Royal Mint to release an NFT this summer.
No details were given of what image or object the NFT might represent, nor whether NFTs would be used to generate funds for the exchequer.
Mr Glen said the announcement was one of a series of measures to make the UK a “global hub for cryptoasset technology and investment.”
Other measures announced by Mr Glen included:
- stablecoins, a cryptocurrency designed to have a relatively stable price by being pegged to a currency or commodity, to be regulated, paving the way for their use in the UK as a recognised form of payment
- legislation for a ‘financial market infrastructure sandbox’ by 2023, enabling firms to explore the “potentially transformative benefits of distributed ledger technology”
- a two-day ‘Crypto Sprint’ led by the City watchdog, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), in May seeking the financial services industry’s views on key issues relating to the development of a future cryptoasset regime
- establishing a Cryptoasset Engagement Group to work with the financial services industry
- looking at ways to improve the competitiveness of the UK’s tax system to encourage further development of the cryptoasset market.
Today’s announcement to launch an NFT at a time when the UK is in the grip of a cost-of-living crisis may raise eyebrows. Following his recent Spring Statement, Mr Sunak came under pressure from all sides of the political divide for not doing more to help the UK’s increasingly hard-pressed households.
News that May’s Crypto Sprint will be led by the FCA also has the potential to stoke tensions between the Treasury and the UK’s main financial regulator about future plans for the crypto industry.
The FCA issues regular warnings to consumers about the crypto industry, reminding them that cryptoassets are unregulated and high-risk.
The FCA’s current stance on crypto as an investment is that investors “are very unlikely to have any protection if things go wrong, so people should be prepared to lose all their money if they choose to invest in them”.
30 March: Watchdog Extends Deadline For Selected Crypto Firms
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), the UK’s financial regulator, has extended a short-term licensing arrangement for several cryptocurrency firms, providing them with more time to get their affairs in order.
The FCA had previously announced that crypto companies operating without permanent licences by 1 April 2022 would be made to stop their UK operations.
Crypto firms operating in the UK are required to register with the FCA under anti-money laundering regulations. So far, 33 firms have been added to the regulator’s list of registered cryptoasset organisations.
But the regulator has now said that a dozen firms on its temporary register of cryptoasset businesses will be given additional time providing that they can show they need it.
The FCA’s Temporary Registration Regime for cryptoasset businesses was set up in December 2020. This allowed existing cryptoasset firms, whose applications had yet to be assessed by the regulator, to continue trading providing they had applied to register before 16 December of that year.
The FCA’s temporary register shows that two of the 12 firms now offered extensions include payments and banking app Revolut and Copper, a business that helps financial institutions trade cryptocurrencies.
Crypto firms on the temporary list will be given extra time if they supply more information for their application. According to the FCA: “This is necessary where a firm may be pursuing an appeal or may have particular winding-down circumstances”.
Earlier this year, a House of Commons Treasury Select Committee report criticised the FCA for the amount of time it had taken to deal with applications and recommended that the 1 April deadline should not be extended.
The regulator issues regular warnings to consumers about the crypto industry. It reminds would-be traders that cryptoassets are unregulated and high-risk, which means people are “very unlikely to have any protection if things go wrong, so people should be prepared to lose all their money if they choose to invest in them”.
The FCA’s Financial Services Register includes a list of unregistered cryptoasset businesses. According to the FCA, these “are UK businesses that appear to be carrying on cryptoasset activity that are not registered with the FCA for anti-money laundering purposes”.
Earlier this March, the FCA said it had opened more than 300 cases on unregistered crypto firms in the past six months “many of which could be scams”.
22 March: Advertising watchdog warns 50 firms over crypto ads
The UK’s advertising regulator has issued an enforcement notice to more than 50 companies promoting cryptocurrencies, setting out its standards for ads and including warnings against encouraging investors to buy through fear of missing out.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) says it issued the notice as part of an ongoing clampdown on “problem” cryptocurrency ads and to ensure that consumers are treated fairly in this area of the financial marketplace.
As part of the notice, ASA provides guidance on how the crypto industry should keep to the rules when promoting its products.
ASA says advertisers should state clearly that cryptocurrencies are unregulated in the UK and that the value of holdings can go down as well as up.
It adds that promotions must not imply that cryptocurrency decisions are trivial, simple, or suitable for anyone, nor must they imply a sense of urgency to buy or create a fear of missing out.
The guidance extends to ads in the press, on TV, via email, outdoor posters, in promoted social media posts and via paid agreements with influencers.
ASA will continue to monitor the situation and warns that it will take “targeted enforcement action to ensure a level playing field” if problem ads persisted after 2 May.
Earlier this year, the government said new rules on cryptocurrency advertising, overseen by City watchdog the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), would be introduced bringing them into line with traditional financial promotions.
Guy Parker, the ASA’s chief executive, said: “Crypto has exploded in popularity in recent years. We’re concerned that people might be enticed by ads into investing money they can’t afford to lose, without understanding the risks. Working alongside the FCA, we’ll take strong action against any advertiser who fails to ensure that their ads are responsible.”
Sarah Pritchard, executive director of markets at the FCA, said: “People should be wary of any promotion promising high investment returns and do further research before investing, including through the FCA’s InvestSmart website.
“Crypto assets remain unregulated and those who invest in them should be prepared to lose all their money.”
11 March: FCA Demands Closure Of Crypto ATMs
Watchdog the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has told cryptoasset firms to close any automatic teller machines (ATMs) offering crypto services in the UK.
ATMs offering cryptoasset exchange services in the UK must be registered with the FCA and must comply with UK Money Laundering Regulations (MLR).
The regulator says none of the cryptoasset firms registered with it have been approved to offer crypto ATM services. This means that any of them operating in the UK are doing so illegally and consumers should not be using them.
The FCA is contacting operators of crypto ATM machines in the UK to tell them that the machines be shut down or the operators will face further action.
The regulator issues regular warnings to consumers that cryptoassets are unregulated and high-risk, which means people “are very unlikely to have any protection if things go wrong, so people should be prepared to lose all their money if they choose to invest in them.”
4 March: Man City Signs Crypto Deal With OKX
Premier League champions Manchester City have signed a multi-year deal with cryptocurrency exchange OKX.
The partnership, OKX’s first move into football sponsorship, will give the exchange an in-stadium presence at the club’s Ethiad stadium. The deal covers the men’s and women’s teams, as well as City’s e-sports operations.
Seychelles-based OKX claims to be the second largest cryptocurrency exchange with 20 million users worldwide. As part of the deal, it said it would be collaborating with City “to explore future innovation projects together”.
Sponsorship deals between football clubs and the cryptocurrency industry have become a regular occurrence in recent months.
The Bitget exchange recently announced tie-ups with both the Turkish side Galatasaray and the Italian club Juventus. See story from 17 February below.
17 February: Galatasaray Deal Highlights Sport’s Growing Links To Crypto Sector
Turkish football team Galatasaray has partnered with a cryptocurrency exchange in a brand-building initiative aimed at introducing fans to the crypto sector.
The sponsorship deal, brokered by Capital Sports Media Group, will feature the Bitget exchange as Galatasaray’s official partner on multiple platforms and media assets across both the club’s football and basketball teams.
The announcement is the latest commercial deal involving football and the cryptocurrency industry. It follows Bitget’s recent association with Italian side Juventus.
Earlier this month, Polish team Legia Warsaw revealed a tie-up with sport and entertainment agency Capital Block, to explore how to market Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) – a form of digital collectible – to its fan base.
Last October, Capital Block, the NFT division of Capital Media, advised Galatasaray on its first NFT release, featuring Ali Sami Yen, the club’s founder, which sold out in less than a minute.
Sandra Lou, CEO of Bitget, said: “Turkey has demonstrated significant interest in the crypto sector and we look forward to growing our community in this market as we continue to lead educational and knowledge sharing opportunities within the space.”
Tim Mangnall, CEO of Capital Block, said: “We have been working with Galatasaray for a while now and we know how committed the club is to being aligned with the most modern and revolutionary technologies out there.”