Industry welcomes ASCI guidelines for Virtual digital assets advertising

The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) has announced fresh guidelines regarding advertising and marketing promotions of cryptocurrency. ASCI has directed that all ads for Virtual digital assets (VDA) products and VDA exchanges, or featuring VDAs, must carry a disclaimer stating: “Crypto products and NFTs are unregulated and can be highly risky. There may be no regulatory recourse for any loss from such transactions.” The guidelines will be applicable to all virtual digital asset-related ads released on or after April 1, 2022.

Commenting on the new guidelines, Manisha Kapoor, Secretary General, ASCI, said, “We have seen a spate of advertising for virtual digital assets, which could compromise consumer interest in the absence of some guardrails. Use of celebrities and high decibel advertising would attract consumers to these offerings, without full disclosure of the risks. Given that this is, as of now, an unregulated space, it is even more important for advertising to be upfront regarding the risks associated with these products. Globally, this is an emerging technology and products in the virtual digital asset industry have seen significant volatility. We believe with these guidelines, advertisements would be fairer and more transparent.”

Subhash Kamath, Chairman, ASCI, added here, “We had several rounds of discussions with the government, finance sector regulators, and industry stakeholders before framing these guidelines. Advertising of virtual digital assets and services needs specific guidance, considering that this is a new and as yet an emerging way of investing. Hence, there is a need to make consumers aware of the risks and ask them to proceed with caution.”

Industry leaders have welcomed the ASCI guidelines and said that they were a step in the right direction.

Welcoming the move, Ashish Singhal, Founder and CEO, CoinSwitch, said that the ASCI guidelines are a step in the right direction to standardise advertisements within the VDA space. “The VDA industry is supportive of all efforts towards investor protection, however, there are nuances that need to be addressed as the space is ever-evolving. We will continue to work together with ASCI and other stakeholders to refine them further,” he added.

In a similar vein, Ramalingam Subramanian, Head of Brand, Marketing and Communication, CoinDCX, remarked, “ASCI releasing customised advertising guidelines is a very promising and welcoming move for the Crypto industry in India. CoinDCX , is a member of ASCI and has been actively complying with ASCI’s Standard Ad Guidelines. Alongside, we have also been following some internal guardrails with an objective to be transparent and use appropriate disclaimers in our advertisement campaign across all channels. The new guidelines add in more clarity and we are committed to abide by these and represent our brand in the right light.”

Shrenik Gandhi, CEO and Co-founder, White Rivers Media, too, said that the guidelines will only strengthen the industry further. He added, “We have closely worked with BFSI and Fantasy gaming clients and have seen these guidelines proving to be effective in long-term customer satisfaction. Of course, guidelines in the initial stage may come across a little discomforting as they may appear to kill creative freedom. But when we look at the bigger picture, guidelines are only meant to improve the consumer experience, which is also our ultimate goal in this industry.”

Raghav Gupta, MD, India and APAC, Coursera, added here, “Cryptocurrency has brought a major shift in the Virtual Digital Assets field, presenting lucrative investment opportunities for the investors. It is also creating a plethora of options for job seekers.”

Rikki Agarwal, Co-Founder & COO, Blink Digital said, "The cryptocurrency culture seems to be growing rapidly in India with increasing adoption among young men and women. Though the Union Budget highlighted regulating the crypto and NFTs, still there is no clarity on its legality. The new guidelines by ASCI will certainly have an impact on brand engagements and ad spends going forward. We could also see an impact on how private crypto players plan their ad spendings during festive seasons, cricket tournaments, and on influencers and celebrities. In order to compete with the possible launch of the government's digital currency, brands might consider newer avenues to interact with the consumers. Though, the move will definitely help in education and creating awareness amongst the consumers, we will have to wait and watch on how brands relook at their strategy and plan their ad spends."

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