Google to Lift Crypto Ad Ban in October

Google has made a 180 degree turn from its blanket ban of cryptocurrency ads, at least for crypto exchanges. The internet giant will start allowing regulated crypto exchanges to purchase ads in the U.S. and Japan, according to a company announcement. It’s a step forward for the industry and an indication that the stigma attached to digital currencies is beginning to fade. The decision comes on the heels of social media giant Facebook similarly relaxing its crypto ad restrictions over the summer. Google’s revised policy goes into effect in October.

Google’s ad ban hasn’t been in place that long, as the announcement came in March and went into effect in June. At the time, banning crypto ads was the dot-com way of fighting back, and in addition to Google and Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat put their own respective bans in place. Google’s policy was designed to protect investors from putting their retirement savings in risky ICOs. Meanwhile, Google’s ad ban remains in effect for other components of the crypto industry, including ICOs and investment advice, for instance.

It’s unclear what triggered the change in direction, as the U.S. hasn’t come any closer to unveiling regulation for the burgeoning crypto industry. And Japan just suffered another crypto exchange hack after $60 million was stolen from Zaif.

Most likely, Google no longer wanted to remain on the sidelines of an industry that is expected to hit a stride. While trading volumes have surely come down in 2018 compared to year-end 2017 levels, crypto exchanges are still generating income hand over fist, with Binance reportedly targeting $1 billion in profits for the full year. CNBC reported that Google parent company Alphabet generates more than three-quarters of its sales from ads, with the segment topping $54 billion in 1H2018 alone.

As for Google’s new relaxed guidelines, the company states: “This policy will apply globally to all accounts that advertise these financial products,” even though the ads are only permitted in the U.S. and Japan markets.

Exchange Push

One regulated exchange that should meet the requirement for Google ads is Bakkt, the new exchange by NYSE parent company ICE. Bakkt is scheduled to make its debut in November and today made the following announcement –

Meanwhile, other exchanges are moving toward a regulated model, including the likes of ShapeShift. Though ShapeShift is based in Switzerland, it’s moving more toward a regulatory-friendly model with its new membership requirement. Before users could sign up without disclosing personal details, but Erik Voorhees told Cheddar that the model couldn’t be sustained in light of the company’s growth.

Once lawmakers craft policy for ICOs and make it clear what comprises a security token, perhaps social media and other tech platforms will begin easing those restrictions as well.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Gerelyn has been covering ICOs and the cryptocurrency market since mid-2017. She's also reported on fintech more broadly in addition to asset management, having previously specialized in institutional investing. She owns some BTC and ETH.