Memecoin “influencers” fall under FCA regulatory spotlight

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By Harper Lee

The Financial Conduct Authority is seeking to curb, among other things, meme-centric marketing for financial products.

The UK financial regulator has proposed guidelines for financial services companies and social media influencers who create memes about cryptocurrencies (or other investments), indicating that all marketing must be transparent and not misleading.

The FCA said so-called “finfluencers” must have approval from an FCA-appointed representative before advertising or posting memes about financial products and services.

“Influencers are reminded that promoting a financial product without the approval of a person authorized by the FCA and with the appropriate authorization could constitute a criminal offence,” the regulator wrote.

“Consumers need to be alert to questionable adverts and online scams, but it’s important that influencers make sure they are on the right side of the rules and consider what would happen to their own reputation if it turns out that they were promoting products illegally.” he added.

The FCA’s director of consumer investments, Lucy Castledine, said the watchdog “will take action against those who illegally tout financial products”.

The regulator noted that promotion via memes is particularly popular in the cryptocurrency sector – which has a dedicated niche for memecoins. He specifically identified Telegram and Reddit as popular platforms for crypto-related memetic marketing.

The FCA’s latest warning comes after it stressed it would take action against firms issuing illegal financial promotions last month.

Last year, it issued 450 alerts as part of its efforts to combat illegal cryptocurrency ads.

This is also not the first time the FCA has issued a warning regarding crypto memes. In July 2023, the regulator proposed guidelines that included a section on non-compliant crypto memes considered financial promotions – much of its language mirroring yesterday’s warning.

Article updated with additional information.

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