UK Advertising Authority Questions Floki Inu Ads Throughout London

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In Brief
  • The Advertising Standards Authority in the U.K. is investigating the legitimacy of ads on the underground transportation system advertising Floki Inu.

  • The ASA has been clamping down of crypto advertisements in 2021.

  • There has been a lack of regulatory clarity from the FCA has been hampering the operation of digital asset companies.

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

An advertisement vetted by Transport For London for buying Floki Inu tokens has elicited concern from the ASA and politicians in the United Kingdom.

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The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) in the U.K. is investigating whether advertisements on the London underground buses for Floki Inu violate advertising rules. Some politicians in the U.K., including Sian Berry of the Green Party London, have questioned the approval of such advertisements by Transport for London.

The advert displayed the following text “Missed Doge? Get Floki.” Floki Inu, the Georgia-based entity behind the cryptocurrency, claims it followed all the rules when it came to its advertising campaign, which included disclaimers regarding the risky nature of investing in crypto, and has decried politicians’ efforts to censor such advertisements.

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ASA weighs in on wording of advertisements

The Financial Conduct Authority in the U.K. has yet to draft legislation surrounding crypto advertisement, even though it has legislation around how traditional financial institutions may advertise, and has issued warnings in the past to social media platforms regarding fraudulent ads.

The ASA said that ads for cryptocurrencies must not contain jargon or language that is difficult to understand and warn of potential risks. This applies to media targeted at a general audience, while advertisements in specialist publications may contain technical language. ASA has also said that cryptocurrency institutions that investors choose to make use of will not be able to enlist the ombudsman’s services in resolving issues and that money could be irretrievably lost.

Increased scrutiny of crypto ads

Adverts like those by Luno, a cryptocurrency exchange was flagged after it advertised on the TFL, enticing viewers to buy bitcoin in May 2021. The head of Luno, Marcus Swanepoel, that the lack of regulatory clarity in the U.K. is not making it easy for crypto companies to play by the rules.

In March 2021, the ASA banned an advertisement by Coinfloor that described Bitcoin as “digital gold.” The ASA warned in April that products should not be marketed as being regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. The ASA communicated to the Financial Times in July 2021 that crypto ad regulation is a priority area, and they will come down hard on problematic advertisements.

Earlier this year, TikTok warned creators not to promote cryptocurrency using its platform. A survey of U.K. consumers conducted by a prominent behavioral finance institution found that 36% of cryptocurrency investors had much to learn about crypto. The Advertising Standards Council of India said it would investigate crypto advertisements, flagging it as a potential concern.

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