Thailand’s Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has amended rules to tighten its oversight of advertisements and promotion of digital asset business operators recently. The regulator said that the rules were implemented in order to increase supervision of advertising of crypto assets and offer protection to traders in its statement.
The SEC also said that it was looking to provide clear guidelines which were in line with guidelines introduced by foreign regulators. The SEC said that the decision was taken following hearings on February 3 and May 5, 2022, where it received recommendations from relevant parties.
The rules came into force on September 1, 2022 and operators have a month to comply with the rules, the regulator revealed in its statement. The month-long window has been given to change advertisements which were made before September 1.
Why it matters: The rules can be significant as they will compel operators to inform people about the risks and volatility of cryptocurrencies before they proceed to invest in crypto assets. It is especially crucial in light of SEC’s observation that digital asset operators in Thailand were advertising without any due diligence.
- More often than not, these ads promise exorbitant returns to lure customers but do not touch upon investment risks. The problem has been faced by many countries in the world inlcuding India.
Rationale behind SEC’s decision: The regulator said that it “encountered problems” in the advertisements of digital asset operations.
- The problems ranged from lack of warnings about the risks and volatility of crypto assets to the space dedicated to the warning being too small.
- The SEC also said that the advertising content showed only positive information which could induce people to trade cryptocurrencies without evaluating its risks appropriately.
FREE READ of the day by MediaNama: Click here to sign-up for our free-read of the day newsletter delivered daily before 9 AM in your inbox.
What are the new rules?
No false advertising: The SEC directed operators to not exaggerate, distort, conceal or misrepresent information in their ads. The regulatory body also said that exchanges must include only those customers who have been authorised to open an account and are ready to use the service while providing information about the number of customers
Inform SEC: Every company, which wishes to provide advertisements, will have to provide details to the SEC about its advertisements and their costs.
- The details will have to include information of the person, who will affect decision-making of users, hired by the company such as a blogger or an influencer.
- The companies will have to follow the rules, methods, conditions and deadlines specified by the SEC.
Warning about investment risks: The SEC has stipulated that the format of the presentation of warnings must be clear in the ads.
- It should be easy to notice and must present complete information considered useful for making investment decisions, the SEC said in its statement.
- The SEC has also mandated that an ad must carry information about risks associated with crypto investments if it is highlighting positive information or an opportunity to earn a return for a balanced view.
- The information must be displayed in parallel, the SEC added.
Use official channels: The SEC has said that the advertisements will be limited to official channels of the operators in order to prevent it from reaching a wide range of people.
- The SEC also intends to prevent people from indulging in impulsive buying as cryptocurrencies are volatile products as was the case when advertisements were done in public spaces and other channels.
Ensure compliance by stakeholders: The rules require companies to look after the fact that all parties involved in the making of the ad are compliant with the rules. It includes publishers, people who produce the ad, and the ones who appear in the ads, among others.
Thailand’s push to regulate crypto
The SEC had first banned the use of crypto as a means of payment in April 2022. The country has been busy this year as it tightens regulations. The government came under fire in July 2022 for its failure to protect local investors of Zipmex, a cryptocurrency exchange that suspended withdrawals temporarily, according to an article in Forkast.
Zipmex was fined 1.92 million baht ($52,287) by the SEC for violating local laws after it halted trading on its platform, Forkast added.
Moreover, the country’s largest crypto exchange, Bitkub, has been on the SEC’s radar for allegedly flouting local securities law, Coindesk said in its report.
There were also reports of the SEC imposing a fine on a Bitkub executive for insider trading. The executive in question, Bitkub Chief Technology Officer Samret Wajanasathian, was ordered to pay a fine of 8.5 million Thai baht (around $235,000) and was barred from holding an executive position for 12 months by the SEC, Coindesk reported.
Thailand’s central bank, the Bank of Thailand, is also working on a CBDC (Central Bank Digital Currency) project. A pilot study commenced last month for a retail CBDC but the central bank reiterated that it does not have plans to issue a retail digital currency.
India’s own effort to regulate crypto ads
The country has also moved to regulate crypto ads after it witnessed a significant rise in the number of crypto investors. Several crypto exchanges wanted to tap the growing interest and spent crores in showcasing ads in front pages of leading newspapers and in marquee events like the Indian Premier League and T20 World Cup.
The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), the advertising industry’s self-regulatory body, issued guidelines on February 23 this year after holding discussions with the Indian government in December 2021.
Here are some of the guidelines:
- Disclaimer: ASCI stipulates that all ads for VDA products and exchanges must carry the following disclaimer—
“Crypto products and NFTs are unregulated and can be highly risky. There may be no regulatory recourse for any loss from such transactions.”
- Words like “currency” may not be used: The words “currency”, “securities”, “custodian” and “depositories” may not be used in advertisements of VDA products or services as consumers associate these terms with regulated products.
- Clear information on costs and profits: Advertisements that provide information on the cost or profitability of VDA products should contain clear, accurate, sufficient, and updated information. As an example, ASCI said that “zero cost” will need to include all costs that the consumer might reasonably associate with the offer or transaction.
- No portrayal of crypto as a solution to money problems: The advertisements should not show crypto products or crypto trading as a solution to money problems, personality problems, or other such drawbacks.
- Celebrities must do due diligence: Since this is a risky category, celebrities or prominent personalities who appear in crypto advertisements must do their due diligence about the statements and claims made in the advertisement, so as not to mislead consumers.
The new guidelines came into effect on April 1, 2022 and all earlier advertisements must not appear in the public domain unless they comply with the guidelines. However, ASCI is a self-regulatory body and its guidelines are not legally binding.
This post is released under a CC-BY-SA 4.0 license. Please feel free to republish on your site, with attribution and a link. Adaptation and rewriting, though allowed, should be true to the original.
- IMF warns of volatility in financial markets due to crypto and urges India to come up with regulatory framework
- US looks to provide customer protections to crypto investors in this new bill
- 6 Lessons from the US Crypto Bill for India’s Legislators
- Why did India’s Ad Council find over 400 crypto ads non-compliant?