- India’s crypto lobby, the Blockchain and Crypto Assets Council (BCAC), is developing new rules to determine how crypto exchanges can advertise on television and online platforms.
- The new rules are expected to take effect in the next seven to ten days.
- The advertising guidelines will be part of the self-regulatory code that is currently being worked on.
The next seven to ten days will determine how India’s emerging crypto industry will present itself to the masses. The Blockchain and Crypto Assets Council (BCAC) will introduce a new set of guidelines to determine how crypto exchanges in the country can advertise on TV as well as online platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney + Hostar and others.
The move comes after crypto exchanges in India – which include WazirX, CoinSwitch Kuber, and CoinDCX – stepped up in terms of advertising in the country. But that seems to have got them into hot water with regulators because they didn’t warn enough about the pitfalls of investing in cryptocurrencies.
Navin Surya, who sits on the advisory board of the crypto council, told the Economic Times (ET) that the advertising guidelines will be part of the self-regulatory framework already in the works.
What’s the fuss about crypto advertising in India?
There was a time when most of the people in India were not interested in cryptocurrencies. But the past three years – the year of the pandemic in particular – have been key to changing that perception.
Meanwhile, crypto exchanges in India have also done their part in boosting business. You have signed sponsorship deals for major events such as the 2020 European Football Championship, the Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket tournament and the T20 tour between India and Sri Lanka.
But more visibility also means more criticism. A plea by lawyers Aayush Shukla and Vikash Kumar in the Delhi High Court argues that these new advertisements do not adequately warn investors about the risks associated with investing in cryptocurrencies. Accordingly, the disclaimer text should cover 80% of the screen.
I’m trying to get ahead of official references
Just as over-the-top platforms (OTT) tried to stay one step ahead of regulation in India with their self-regulatory code, crypto exchanges are also offering the time for the industry to mature.
The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) indicated that it could introduce guidelines that would make crypto advertising a “new problem area” after the Delhi High Court announced it.
ASCI guidelines are not legally enforceable. A violation of the ASCI guidelines will, however, be treated as a violation of official regulations.
Cryptocurrency ads in India already have disclaimers – but there is no such thing as “one size fits all”
The problem isn’t that these new crypto ads don’t have disclaimers – they do. However, each crypto exchange has approached this in its own way. WazirX ads have a disclaimer that appears throughout the ad, but in small type in the corner of the screen. For CoinDCX and CoinSwitch Kuber ads, it appears at the very end. The font size is different in both cases.
The Delhi High Court has called for a “standardized” approach. The disclaimer – what it says, how it appears, the required screen space and its duration – should be the same for all companies involved. Not only does this level the playing field, but investors are also aware of the format and understand that there are risks in the crypto markets.
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