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British Advertising Agency Holds BitMEX to Account for Misleading Crypto Ads

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The Philippines Gets Crypto Exchange From BitMex
The Philippines Gets Crypto Exchange From BitMex

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Uk’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), Britain’s advertising regulator, has reiterated its stance against an ad from top cryptocurrency derivatives platform BitMEX.

Earlier today, the advertising regulator published a press release stating that it wasn’t pleased with the purportedly misleading BitMEX advert published in the local newspaper earlier this year.

The questionable ad showed a double spread of a logarithmic graph, where the value of Bitcoin against the Dollar over the past decade was showcased. Right beside the graph, BitMEX displayed two texts.  The left side of the page features:
“3 January 2009. Ten years ago today, the first block of the Bitcoin blockchain referenced the front page of The Times.”

While the right side had the follow; “3 January 2019. Turns out, that was a pretty big deal.”

The ASA press release stated that the agency had received several complaints about the ad. The complaints criticized it of misleading potential readers by either exaggerating the possible returns on Bitcoin investments or ignoring the risks associated with them. HDR Global Trading, BitMEX’s parent company, responded to the complaints.

The company claimed the ad was part of a campaign to celebrate the decade-long anniversary of the Bitcoin mining genesis; which, started on January 3, 2009. Driving its point home, HDR pointed out that the ad included a footer on the front page of the paper that read, “Thanks Satoshi, we owe you one. Happy 10th Birthday, Bitcoin.” Along with the entire ad and the footnote, there was reportedly also an article to that effect by BitMEX chief executive Arthur Hayes.

BitMEX also defended itself, saying that it only provides access to financial derivatives markets in cryptocurrency to enable easier trading, as opposed to the public opinion that it buys or sells cryptocurrency.

Thus, it isn’t interested in the value of cryptocurrency itself, and the ad was merely a means to inform. The exchange also argued that the graph was adequately scaled and labeled, adding that “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.”

Nevertheless, the ASA maintains that the logarithmic scale could easily throw off readers, especially those without specialist knowledge of the scale’s intricacies.

A similar ruling was given against Crypto Bank Global last year. At the time, the ASSA took issue against an ad published in April 218 in a regional newspaper. The text in the ad read, “Bitcoin to hit £30,000 in 2018! FREE CENTRAL LONDON SEMINAR … There are more millionaire’s being made from Bitcoin faster than anything in history. DON’T miss your chance AGAIN! Come to our FREE London Seminar and learn how you can make money in Bitcoin.”

In its ruling, the ASA explained that BitMEX didn’t respond to several previous questions, including whether the claim of £30,000 in 2018 was misleading.

The ASA implied that the company had violated the CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 1.7, adding as well that a lot of readers would have come across the ad and buy cryptocurrency, even without fully understanding the risks associated with crypto assets, which increase if bought on scams like Bitcoin Loophole and Bitcoin Future.

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