- Transport for London said at the weekend it ensures crypto ads comply with its policies.
- “Missed Doge? Get Floki ” posters appeared throughout the city’s travel system, touting the unregulated meme crypto coin.
- Siân Berry, Green party London Assembly member, told Britain’s Guardian that crypto ads were unethical.
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London’s transport authority is cracking down on ads for cryptocurrencies after the massive campaign to tout dogecoin spinoff floki inu around the city’s travel system sparked concern about unregulated assets like this one.
“Missed Doge? Get Floki” was the slogan splattered across London’s underground stations, trains and buses in October. The three-week campaign for meme token floki inu, inspired by Elon Musk’s dog, was even funded by a 4% marketing fee levied on buyers.
Some critics were concerned about the fact the ads were promoting a little-known and unregulated financial asset that they said could be open to manipulation, such as pump-and-dump schemes, or fraud. There has been no evidence this far that would suggest floki inu has been subject to any such schemes.
“Since 2018, we have asked our advertising partners to refer all cryptocurrency advertising to us for review prior to it running on our estate,” Chris Reader, head of commercial media at Transport for London (TfL), told Insider Monday.
“When reviewing copy now from cryptocurrency brands who wish to advertise on our estate, we ensure that campaigns contain sufficient information to comply with both our policy and the ASA [Advertising Standards Authority] ruling.”
A TfL spokesperson clarified that the authority had already toughened up its stance on crypto adverts and that this was not a development that had taken place over this past weekend.
TfL’s policy stated that nothing controversial or sensitive can be advertised on its platforms among other things.
This isn’t the first time that a crypto advertiser has stirred up controversy. Earlier this year, crypto exchange Luno ran an ad campaign on the underground and on London’s famous double-decker buses with the slogan “if you’re seeing bitcoin on the underground, it’s time to buy.” Britain’s advertising watchdog banned the posters, calling them “misleading and irresponsible.”
Speculative crypto tokens are unregulated in the UK and officials have regularly voiced their concerns about how risky they are. Charles Randell, the chair of the Financial Conduct Authority, a regulatory body, said in a speech in September: “if you buy (crypto), you should be prepared to lose all your money.”
“The FCA does not currently have the power to oversee how unregulated cryptoassets, like floki inu, are advertised to consumers,” a spokesperson for the regulator said in an emailed response.
A couple of weeks ago, fraudsters ran off with at least $US2 ($AU3) million in a pump-and-dump scam involving the Squid Game token, which draws its name from the Netflix hit show, but is not affiliated with it.
Floki inu is a legitimate cryptocurrency. But it carried warnings on its posters about the risks to potential buyers.
“Where the advert says ‘this is completely unregulated, you may lose all your money’, they ought to have had second thoughts. I don’t think cryptocurrency ads should be on the network. They’re unethical,” Siân Berry, the Green party London Assembly member told Britain’s Guardian newspaper.
Experts have said that one way to check the legitimacy of a coin is to find out if it has different real-world use cases. According to the floki inu website, the coin will be linked to a play-to-earn gaming metaverse called Valhalla that is under development, as well as a non-fungible token marketplace.
This article has been updated to include comment from TfL that its review process had not changed over this past weekend and was already in place.