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ASA takes action on misleading crypto ad

ASA has told HDR Global Trading to take down an ad and ensure in future that financial information was set out so as to be readily understood by the audience it was aimed at and that the risks of the relevant investments should be clearly signposted.

The ad was for a cryptocurrency trading platform that offered leveraged contracts bought and sold in Bitcoin. It did not itself buy or sell Bitcoin, nor were investors’ gains or losses directly dependent on Bitcoin value. Any transaction settled in Bitcoin would require the investor already to own it. The ad showed a graph purporting to illustrate the increase in values of returns. ASA received complaints that the graph was misleading in terms of use of the graph axes, as it showed Bitcoin values from January 2009 and January 2019 and depicted a sudden rise in Bitcoin value after July 2010. The company explained the purpose of the graph, and said it was not an ad for a financial product but was rather a commemoration of Bitcoin’s 10th “birthday”. It also said the graph had a clearly labelled scale and did not exaggerate the benefits or conceal the risks of a Bitcoin investment. ASA said the logarithmic scale used on the graph was misleading and that some specialist knowledge would be required to intepret it accurately. Given the ad was directed at national newspaper readers, it was not appropriate. It also considered the text did little to warn against the risks of Bitcoin.

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Emma Radmore