On Wednesday, August 14, the U.K. Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has upheld its complaint against the crypto derivatives platform BitMEX for showing a “misleading” Bitcoin price graph on the front page of the country’s national newspaper.
ASA, which is an independent ad regulator, said that earlier this year in January 2019, BitMEX advertised in The Times newspaper showing a 10-year graph of the BTC price between January 2009 and January 2019. The ASA regulator states that BitMEX breached an ad code and did not provide any clear explanatory information.
In its complaint, the authority notes that BitMEX’s ad was:
“A clear promotional statement of Bitcoin’s merits and did very little to warn consumers of any risks. For those reasons we considered that the ad had misleadingly exaggerated the return on investment, failed to illustrate the risk of the investment and therefore concluded it was in breach of the Code [CAP Code, the rule book for non-broadcast advertisements].”
ASA Receives Multiple Complaints
The ad regulator stated that it has received four complaints from those who think that the BitMEX ad failed to illustrate the risks and also “exaggerated returns”. Thus, the complainants have challenged if the ad was “misleading”.
Issuing its formal defensive response, BitMEX said that the ad was a part of the campaign to commemorate the 10 Bitcoin mining anniversary ever since the genesis block was mined on January 3, 2009. BitMEX further added that the purpose of the advertisement was not to promote Bitcoin or any of its related product.
The crypto derivatives platform added that the ad was just to inform without any buying/selling motive and that it has “no direct financial interest in the value of cryptocurrency itself”. It further argued that the scale of the BTC graph was clearly labeled and very appropriate. BitMEX stated:
“The logarithmic scale of the graph significantly understated the scale of the rise in its value which appeared as modest upward growth rather than the approximately 5,200,000% growth from 18 August 2010.”
However, the ASA has stressed that the scale on the graph could have been misinterpreted by a large audience which lacks the understanding of specialized knowledge. As a result, BitMEX has been asked to clearly ensure that its ads are clearly understood even by an average audience and that the risks of investments are “sufficiently clearly signposted.”