Canadian Authorities Issue Crypto Marketing Strategy Warnings

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In Brief
  • Canadian authorities have released a document outlining the marketing, advertising, and social media compliance requirements.

  • Concerns were raised that crypto trading platforms produce marketing material that may encourage risky investor behavior.

  • The new guidelines are for trading platforms that are already registered, and those that are seeking registration.

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The Trust Project is an international consortium of news organizations building standards of transparency.

Predatory marketing campaigns by crypto trading platforms in Canada have been flagged by the Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA) and the Investment Industry Organization of Canada (IIROC).

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The marketing and advertising that crypto trading platforms have engaged in may be in breach of existing securities legislation and may have raised public investor concern, by using “gambling style promotions” that encourage risky trading

This, in the view of the IIROC President and CEO Andrew Kriegler, must factor into the consciousness of trading platforms. Kriegler advocates that all marketing and advertising should meet requirements to treat investors fairly and honestly.

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Questionable crypto marketing

Examples of the type of questionable marketing the Canadian authorities highlight include:

  • “Your crypto assets are safe with us because we meet all regulatory requirements as a fully licensed Money Services Business under Canadian legislation.”
  • “Our platform is consistently rated the safest and most trusted platform by leading rating agencies, including Digital Bitcoin Rating Service and Triple-A Crypto All-Stars.”
  • “Important Update! BTC skyrockets! Don’t get left behind!”

The first statement implies that mere registration of the trading platform as a Money Services Business is adequate to protect client interests, not considering other legislation that the trading platforms may have to comply with under securities law.

The second statement is unsubstantiated and therefore holds little credibility. The third statement could be construed as a recommendation or investment advice, which crypto asset traders are not allowed to make.

Social media strategies under scrutiny

Social media usage is also addressed in the published compliance document, which states that when applying for registration, the trading platform’s marketing and advertising strategies may be subject to scrutiny by the CSA, to check whether compliance is achieved. 

Fitness for registration may be a subject of concern if disregard for securities law and IIROC rules are observed by the CSA.

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