Cryptocurrency Ads Can’t Use ‘Currency’, Must Have ‘High Risk’ Disclaimer: ASCI New Guidelines

Amid rising popularity of cryptocurrencies in India, the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) has framed guidelines for virtual digital asset advertisement. With 10.07 crore investors, India has the highest number of cryptocurrency traders in the world, according to broker discovery and comparison platform BrokerChooser. To woo more and more customers, the cryptocurrency exchanges have recently started aggressive advertisements. From roping in favourite Bollywood celebrity for a television commercial to promoting it via most-popular content creators, the digital asset exchanges spent crores on advertisements.

The ASCI noted that these advertisements often do not adequately disclose the risk associated with cryptocurrency and NFTs. To ensure that these ads do not exploit consumers’ lack of knowledge on these investment products, the body introduced new guidelines.

All ads for VDA products and VDA exchanges, or featuring VDAs, must carry the following disclaimer. “Crypto products and NFTs are unregulated and can be highly risky. There may be no regulatory recourse for any loss from such transactions.” the ASCI said.

In print or static, equal to at least 1/5th of the advertising space at the bottom of the advertisement in an easy-to-read font, against a plain background,

and to the maximum font size afforded by the space. In video, the disclaimer should be placed at the end of the advertisement against a plain background. A voice over must accompany the disclaimer in text. The voice over should be at a normal speaking pace and must not be hurried, the guidelines stated. In audio, the disclaimer must be spoken at the end of the advertisement.

In social media posts, such a disclaimer must be carried in both the caption as well as any picture or video attachments. The disclaimer within the caption must be placed upfront at the beginning of the post. “Where social media posts. or advertisements have restrictions on text in the static picture, the disclaimer must be carried upfront in the caption before the fold,” the ASCI added.

For social media stories that disappeared in 24 hours, the said disclaimer will need to be voiced at the end of the story in the manner. In formats where there is a limit on characters, the following shortened disclaimer must be used “Crypto products and NFT’s are unregulated and risky” followed by a link to the full disclaimer.

The disclaimer must be made in the dominant language of the advertisement, the body mentioned.

The words “currency”, “securities”, “custodian” and “depositories” may not be

used in advertisements of virtual digital asset products or services as consumers associate these terms with regulated products, it added.

No advertisement may show that VDA products or digital asset trading could be a solution to money problems, personality problems or other such drawbacks. Nothing in the ad should downplay the risks associated with the category.

Every advertisement for VDA products must clearly give out the name of the advertiser and provide an easy way to contact them (phone number or email). No advertisement shall contain statements that promise or guarantee future

increase in profits, the ASCI said.

“Since this is a risky category, celebrities or prominent personalities who appear in VDA advertisements must take special care to ensure that they have done their due diligence about the statements and claims made in the advertisement, so as not to mislead consumers,” the advertisement body added.

The guidelines will be applicable to all advertisements released or published on or after April 1. All earlier advertisement need to incorporate new guidelines and disclaimers after April 15.

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