Indian Ad Council Issues Guidelines for Crypto Promotion

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In Brief
  • The ASCI ad council in India has issued a set of guidelines for the advertisement and promotion of cryptocurrencies.

  • Ads must not contain any statements that promise guaranteed returns in the future.

  • India recently implemented a 30% tax on crypto transactions.

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The ASCI ad council in India has issued a set of guidelines for the advertisement and promotion of cryptocurrencies and virtual digital assets (VDAs).

The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) issued the guidelines following extensive consultation with stakeholders, which also included the government, according to a recent press release. The announcement stressed that the guidelines would become applicable to all virtual digital asset-related ads released on or after April 1.

The ASCI had noted that advertising for VDAs, which it also acknowledged as crypto or NFT products, has been very aggressive over the past few months. The announcement remarked that many advertisements had so far failed to adequately disclose the risks associated with cryptocurrencies.

Crypto promo guidelines

The first guideline features the most prominently on the list and details the disclaimer that will be mandated for all advertisements. According to the release, all ads for VDA products and exchanges, or featuring VDAs, must carry the following disclaimer: 

“Crypto products and NFTs are unregulated and can be highly risky. There may be no regulatory recourse for any loss from such transactions.” The advertising authority stressed that nothing in the ad should downplay the risks associated with the volatile asset class.

The release then stresses that the disclaimer should be made ‘prominent’ and ‘unmissable’ by an average consumer, even specifying the space and font size for printed ads as well as the duration, timing and voiceover speed for commercials. However, the ad council does offer the option of shortening the disclaimer only if followed by a link to the full disclaimer, which should also be made in the dominant language of the advertisement.

The advertisements must also not contain any statements that promise guaranteed returns in the future. VDAs must not be compared with other regulated asset classes in promotional activities, so advertisements are forbidden from referring to them as ‘currency’, ‘securities’, ‘custodian’ and ‘depositories.’ 

Finally some clarity

While ASCI underscores that the guidelines are not tantamount to any legal recognition or endorsement of the industry, market participants are still pleased by the clarity being offered by an authority. According to Buyucoin CEO Shivam Thakral, this clarity on advertisements will enable crypto service providers to craft annual media plans, boosting revenue further. CoinSwitch founder and CEO Ashish Singhal also believes the guidelines are a step in the right direction.

Although crypto policy in India has been in disarray for some time now, the finance ministry recently unveiled a 30% tax on cryptocurrency transactions in its most recent budget announcement. Soon after, user numbers at crypto exchanges around the country began to swell, as investors took this as a sign of the industry’s increasing legitimacy. Exchanges have even started promoting alternative crypto products in an effort to circumvent the proposed duty.

Disclaimer

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Nick is a data scientist who teaches economics and communication in Budapest, Hungary, where he received a BA in Political Science and Economics and an MSc in Business Analytics from CEU. He has been writing about cryptocurrency and blockchain technology since 2018, and is intrigued by its potential economic and political usage.

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