Crypto Exchange Ads Under ASCI Scanner

Cryptocurrency exchanges could get their first set of advertising guidelines soon with the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) looking into the issue after identifying it as an “emerging area of concern”.

“Cryptocurrency is an emerging area of concern,” said Manisha Kapoor, secretary general of the advertising industry’s self-regulatory body. “ASCI is examining additional and fresh guidelines required to protect consultation with different stakeholder,” she said. 

While ASCI guidelines are not legally enforceable, they are part of notifications issued by the department of consumer affairs, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), and Ayush and information and broadcasting (I&B) ministries. Violations of ASCI guidelines are treated as a violation of government’s rules. Cryptocurrency exchanges such as ZebPay, WazirX and CoinSwitch Kuber allow users to buy, sell and trade popular virtual currencies such as bitcoin and lite coin.

While ASCI’s existing code requires all advertising to not be misleading or take advantage of consumer lack of expertise and knowledge, fresh guidelines for cryptocurrency exchanges are under consideration, Kapoor said.

“We will work towards the same through collaboration with different stakeholders,” she said.

The development come after the Delhi High Court last week issued notices to markets regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) and the I&B ministry on a plea seeking action against crypto exchanges advertising without standardized disclaimers. The court has listed the next hearing on August 31.

“Public investments in assets relating to emerging technologies such as cryptocurrency with inadequate information or knowledge can be potentially controversial, if not misleading,” Delhi High Court lawyer Ajay Tejpal told ET.

“Ads to attract investments from the public in such assets without appropriate disclaimers cautioning investors should be treated as against public interest to avoid legal complications,” he said. CoinSwitch Kuber, ZebPay and WazirX are among the crypto exchanges that advertise across platforms.

Investments in crypto in India have increased to nearly $40 billion from $200 million in the past year, according to block chain date platform Chain lysis. S-ET

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