The latest in a long line of online companies to have banned cryptocurrency ads is Microsoft’s search engine, Bing. The news sent almost all cryptocurrency prices into the red. Microsoft’s motive is the same as those given by Facebook and Google – to protect users from ICO scams. Nonetheless, it’s yet another blow to legitimate teams looking to raise awareness for their projects.
It also illustrates yet again the fragility of the crypto market. Bing’s complete ban of anything crypto-related will come into effect at the end of June/early July, as the global computing giant revises its ads policy.
Melissa Alsoszatai-Petheo, Advertiser Policy Manager for Bing, said in a statement, “Because cryptocurrency and related products are not regulated, we have found them to present a possible elevated risk to our users, with the potential for bad actors to participate in predatory behaviors, or otherwise scam consumers. To help protect our users from this risk, we have made the decision to disallow advertising.”
ICO Has Become a Dirty Word (Well, Acronym)
With so much negative press lately, ICO has become a tarnished term. Whether certain statistics are exaggerated or not, there are still plenty of stories of investors being duped out of their money. Let’s not forget the EY report from the end of last year which found that some 10 percent of the $ 3.7 billion raised by ICOs was lost or stolen.
Things have gotten so out of hand, in fact, that the SEC has even issued a scam of its own in HoweyCoins, to illustrate fake ICO deals that are simply too good to be true.
In its bid to raise awareness, the SEC highlighted several red flags to watch out for, including claims of guaranteed high returns, celebrity endorsements, soliciting investment via credit cards, and so-called ‘SEC compliant’ claims.
With the army of anti-ICO voices growing louder, ICO teams in the United States will be increasingly forced to review their options. Such options include raising funds through compliant ICOs, or even traditional IPOs, for those companies that have been operating for at least two years.
What’s The Alternative?
What about blockchain companies that don’t want to hold an ICO, for fear of thrusting themselves onto the SEC’s radar – or ending up behind bars – but don’t believe in regulation, feeling that it goes against the philosophy of the crypto community?
Many companies are getting creative with their marketing by using airdrops and raising awareness for their coins that way. But airdrops are not without their problems either. In fact, they’re also not a legal option.
“The problem with an airdrop is that it’s generally incongruent with US security laws,” says Darren Marble, CEO of CrodwdfundX.
“You can’t just send shares of stock to people… I would put that airdrop concept on hold. For an ICO issuer outside the US, they can do whatever they want. They should probably figure out what laws apply to their jurisdiction. But I would advise anyone in the US not to do it. It’s a good marketing tactic, but there is too much risk and uncertainty.”
So, folks, until you can do a regulated airdrop, you should probably hold off on that as well.
Despite the ad ban, Microsoft is plowing ahead with their exploration into blockchain tech. And Facebook also recently announced its intention to look into blockchains and their use cases.
So at least for now, it seems that the big corporations aren’t bearish on blockchain technology, but unregulated ICOs look like they’re on their way out. In the United States, anyway.