'Finfluencers' and firms warned by UK that crypto meme ads can't be misleading

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) — the UK’s financial services regulator — put out a statement this week warning influencers and firms alike that crypto memes used in an ad need to be lawful. In other words, a “finfluencer” isn’t legally allowed to mislead people about crypto in an ad.

If a firm uses an influencer to get out their message — whether that’s using memes, short-form video, or gaming streams — then the influencer has to follow regulations. A person working for a firm understandably doesn’t have the same freedom of expression as someone giving their own, non-compensated-for opinion.

“Any marketing for financial products must be fair, clear and not misleading so consumers can invest, save or borrow with confidence,” Lucy Castledine, director of consumer investments at the FCA, said in a statement. “Promotions aren’t just about the likes, they’re about the law. We will take action against those touting financial products illegally.”

Any company advertising a financial product is responsible for how an influencer does that marketing. It’s also up to the firm and influencer to check with the FCA that the advertisement, even something like a meme on Reddit, is allowed.

“Firms are on the hook for all their promotions and the FCA has warned they need to ensure influencers they work with communicate to their followers in the right way,” the regulator’s release read. “And influencers are reminded that promoting a financial product without approval from an FCA-authorised person with the right permission could be a criminal offence.”

It’s not like this is an uncommon problem the FCA is tackling. Crypto is a major topic of discussion online and scams are incredibly common. So many people are trying to hype their preferred crypto or other financial service, sometimes at the cost of telling the whole truth. The FCA noted it removed 10,000 misleading financial advertisements in 2023 alone.


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