ASCI publishes guidelines for advertising virtual digital assets

The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI”) released the “Guidelines for Advertising Virtual Digital Assets and Related Services” on February 23, 2022.

The ASCI guidelines extract the definition of “virtual digital assets” (“VDAs”) of the Finance Bill 2022, following which it lists 12 (twelve) guidelines that must be adhered to by VDA platforms when advertising a VDA product or the platform (dealing with VDA products). These include:

1. All advertisements (whether print or static; video; audio; social media posts as well as stories or disappearing posts) for VDA exchanges or advertisements featuring VDA must include the disclaimer. – following responsibility:

Crypto products and NFTs are unregulated and can be very risky. There may be no regulatory recurrence for any loss resulting from such transactions”.

1. ASCI has advised against the use of words such as “currency”; “custodian” and “custodians” in these advertisements.

2. The information contained in these advertisements must not contravene the information and warnings provided by regulated entities for the marketing of VDAs.

3. Ads presenting VDA cost and/or profitability information must do so in a clear, precise, accurate, current and sufficient manner.

4. If an advertisement provides information about a VDA’s past performance, such information will not be provided in a partial or biased manner. In addition, returns for a period of at least 12 months must be demonstrated.

5. Name and contact details [phone number or email id] of the VDA Platform Advertiser must be displayed in the advertisement in an easily understandable manner.

6. A minor or a person who appears to be a minor should not be included in advertisements promoting VDA platforms.

7. Ads are not allowed to advertise VDA products as a solution to personality issues, money issues, or any other inconvenience.

8. Advertisements are not permitted to include statements that provide a guarantee or promise of increased future profits.

9. VDA product advertisements are not allowed to create an understanding among consumers suggesting that consumers do not have to think twice before investing. In simpler terms, minimizing the risks associated with VDA platforms is not allowed.

10. Advertisements are not permitted to draw comparisons between VDA products and any other regulated asset.

11. Celebrities featured in VDA advertisements should exercise caution and exercise due diligence to avoid misleading consumers.

The guidelines will apply to all VDA ads beginning April 1, 2022. Additionally, advertisers of VDA products and platforms are advised to remove old ads or ensure compliance with these guidelines, at most late April 15, 2022.

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