In the recent crash the value of Bitcoin has dropped by almost 50% from the high of nearly $64,000. Market cap of $100 billion has got wiped off in just over a month. Those who invested at the peak are now sitting on massive losses. Instead of making people fully aware of what they are investing in, advertisements by crypto exchanges are being aired without adequate disclaimers. Against this backdrop, Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) has taken a timely step by identifying these ads as an “emerging area of concern” and it would soon come up with new guidelines to protect the interests of consumers through consultations with different stakeholders.
The development has come after Delhi High Court warned that these advertisements are being aired without adequate standardised disclaimers. Securities and Exchange Board of India and others associated bodies have been asked by the court to take adequate steps and issue appropriate guidelines against the top cryptocurrency exchanges, which are advertising on national television. The court has also sought the response of exchanges such as WazirX, CoinDCX and Coinswitch Kuber.
Another area of concern that needs immediate attention is the pending Cryptocurrency and Regulation of Official Digital Currency Bill, 2021. The bill is not listed for the ongoing monsoon session and is yet to be presented in the Parliament. The government needs to speed up the process for bringing clarity into crypto laws. This is important because unlike other investments, the simple rule of demand and supply regulates the cryptocurrency. It is subject to extreme volatility but there is no regulation in place. An appropriate disclaimer with advertisements can certainly help till the clear guidelines are implemented.
The devil lies in the details. A statutory disclaimer that asks one to read more about cryptocurrencies carefully is very important. Discretion and research before investing is crucial. Disclaimers should be understandable by the investor and must be perfunctorily carried.
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