‘It’s time to buy’ Bitcoin advert banned for being irresponsible

The advert was widely distributed on the underground (Picture: AP)
The advert was widely distributed on the underground (Picture: AP)

If you’ve taken public transport in London this year, you’ve probably seen ‘it’s time to buy’ Bitcoin adverts pulling on your FOMO heartstrings.

The UK’s advertising watchdog has now banned the adverts, ruling that the high-profile campaign was irresponsible and misleading.

The campaign, which ran widely on London’s public transport networks this year, was conducted by cryptocurrency exchange Luno, and read ‘if you’re seeing bitcoin on the underground, it’s time to buy.’

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) received multiple complaints that the campaign didn’t properly state the risks associated with investing in cryptocurrency, and is misleading.

Bitcoin’s price, after inflating during the pandemic, plunged last week, after China effectively banned cryptocurrencies in the country. Almost all cryptocurrencies plunged at the same time, with Bitcoin itself falling more than 30% in a day.

Complaints about the adverts alleged the ads ‘took advantage of consumers’ inexperience or credulity’ about investing in an asset that isn’t regulated in the UK. In its decision to ban the ads, the ASA said the ‘it’s time to buy’ statement suggested that a bitcoin investment was easy and accessible.

Bitcoin slumped last week after China effectively banned the cryptocurrency (Picture: Getty)
Bitcoin slumped last week after China effectively banned the cryptocurrency (Picture: Getty)

The ASA also said that its location on public transport suggested that financial novices were specifically being targeted.

‘We understood that bitcoin investment was complex, volatile and could expose investors to losses,’ said the ASA.

‘That stood in contrast to the ad. The audience it addressed, the general public, were likely to be inexperienced in their understanding of cryptocurrencies.’

The ad network has now been banned across the UK for breaching advertising codes on misleading advertising – Luno responded it would feature an ‘appropriate risk warning’ in new campaigns.

It’s not the first time the ASA has banned adverts for cryptocurrency – in March, a full page newspaper advert was banned after telling users to buy Bitcoin and that ‘there is no point in keeping your money in the bank’.

After a slump last week, digital cryptocurrencies seem to be back on the rise following a devastating slump in value last week.

However, this rise will validate critics’ concerns that cryptocurrency is too volatile to be a proper long-term investment and vulnerable to outsize influence from commentators like Elon Musk.

Crypto matters last week were compounded by Elon Musk backtracking on plans for his electric car company Tesla to accept Bitcoin as payment, before Musk stepped back into the ring with a more positive statement.

The billionaire initially said that Tesla would move away from Bitcoin because of the huge environmental impact involved in mining, but then claimed he is in talks with Bitcoin miners about possible renewable energy solutions.

‘Cryptocurrency is a good idea on many levels and we believe it has a promising future, but this cannot come at great cost to the environment,’ he first tweeted.

MORE : China effectively bans cryptocurrency and Bitcoin

MORE : Bitcoin plummets as Elon Musk says Tesla no longer accepts the cryptocurrency

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