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TfL takes tougher stance on cryptocurrency advertising

By Matt Redley
18 November 2021

By Matt Redley

Workers in the Capital may have gazed up from their seats on their commute in the past few months and spotted an advert for cryptocurrency. They may have even spied a campaign for cryptocurrency Floki Inu, which ran across the travel network in October and has since sparked a closer review of marketing standards of cryptocurrency on the London transport network.

This week, TFL confirmed that it is taking a tougher stance on the marketing of cryptocurrency products following criticism of this campaign. The Advertising Standards Authority has also stated that it has launched an inquiry into whether the promotion of Floki Inu has breached UK marketing standards.

The slogan on the advert read “Missed Doge? Get Floki”, referencing the meme-inspired cryptocurrency Dogecoin, and Floki Inu, another meme-inspired coin named after Elon Musk’s puppy.

Critics have argued that adverts such as those for Floki Inu are unethical, as they may urge consumers to purchase a volatile asset, where risks are poorly understood. The evidence that the public has an insufficient understanding of cryptocurrency investment is of particular concern to regulators. In a survey conducted by behavioural finance experts Oxford Risk, cryptocurrency investors admit their understanding of the sector was either poor, or non-existent.

Critical voices note that unregulated financial assets like Floki Inu, could be subject to fraud or market manipulation, such as a pump-and-dump scheme. No evidence has shown that Floki Inu has been subject to any schemes as of yet.

Notably, advertising rules around cryptocurrency differ significantly from more mainstream investment products, which receive greater scrutiny from the regulating body. It is yet to be seen whether TFL’s new stance and this investigation will be a precursor to a nationwide tightening of the advertising rules on cryptocurrencies.