“Bitcoin liya kya (Have you bought Bitcoin)?” You must have come across this one-liner in an advertisement by a cryptocurrency exchange company. Though the ad is humourous, it is without any consumer safety disclaimer. This line is part of an advertisement campaign by cryptocurrency exchange platform CoinDCX. Another ad campaign by CoinSwitch Kuber, featuring actor Kunal Roy Kapur, explains how easy and flexible it is to trade in Bitcoin, but again without any visible disclaimer.
Not just CoinSwitch Kuber or CoinDCX, other crypto exchange firms like ZebPay and WazirX also advertise prominently across platforms, following a spike in investor interest in cryptocurrency.
Now, the cryptocurrency exchange companies could get their first set of ad guidelines soon with the intervention of Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI).
Meanwhile, the central government dithers over introducing a law that could ban digital currencies.
The ASCI has identified them as an “emerging area of concern”. “Cryptocurrency is an emerging area of concern. The advertising industry’s self-regulatory body is examining additional and fresh guidelines required to protect the interests of consumers,” The Economic Times quoted Manisha Kapoor, ASCI secretary general, as saying.
This comes days after the Delhi High Court notices to WazirX, CoinDCX, CoinSwitch, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) and the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting over a petition against the Indian crypto exchange firms for advertising on televisions without adequate disclaimers.
The next hearing on the petition by lawyers Aayush Shukla and Vikash Kumar will be on August 31.
Shukla told Inc42 that they pleaded for mandating guidelines and rules relating to advertisements of crypto assets.
There are mandatory disclaimers for investing in mutual funds and share markets. Therefore, the petitioners argued that there has to be certain appropriate advertisement guidelines for the companies dealing in cryptocurrencies, which are more volatile, vulnerable to supply and demand, and technical, besides lacking clarity.
According to Sebi guidelines, mutual fund advertisements on audio-visual media must carry the statement: “Mutual Fund investments are subject to market risks, read the offer document carefully before investing.” It needs to be displayed on the screen for at least two seconds “in a clearly legible font-size covering at least 80 percent of the total space”, accompanied by a voice-over reiteration.
But CoinDCX’s head of brand & communications, Ramalingam Subramanian, said adding disclaimers to their advertisements that go on air had been a part of their self-regulatory framework. “We are committed to safe and compliant measures…”
Meanwhile, Sebi demanded the Reserve Bank of India, which was responsible for regulating the financial market, be made a respondent in the case.
On the other hand, global digital currency exchanges are also exploring ways to set foot in India, following in the footsteps of market leader Binance, according to a Reuters report.
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