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Google changes its rules on crypto ads

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Major global search engine Google has announced a relaxation of its rules on cryptocurrency adverts.

From next month, adverts which pertain to well-regulated cryptocurrency exchanges in two big economies, Japan and the US, will be allowed.

This represents a marked change in position for the search engine, which handles over three billion searches every single day.

At the moment, it is not possible to advertise a cryptocurrency, a digital wallet or an ICO (initial coin offering) through Google’s advertising system.

According to a statement released at the time of the original decision, it was made based on the risks that Google perceived cryptocurrencies to pose to the consumer, although the firm did leave itself enough room to change tack in the future.

“We don’t have a crystal ball to know where the future is going to go with cryptocurrencies, but we’ve seen enough consumer harm or potential for consumer harm that it’s an area that we want to approach with extreme caution”, the firm said.

The decision outlined in that statement came into force in the middle of June of this year.

However, the search giant has now backtracked somewhat on its original decision, and it will now allow accounts based anywhere around the world to run crypto ads, provided the focus is on Japan or the US.

“The Google Ads policy on financial products and services will be updated in October 2018 to allow regulated cryptocurrency exchanges to advertise in the United States and Japan”, the company said.

“Advertisers will need to be certified with Google for the specific country in which their ads will serve. Advertisers will be able to apply for certification once the policy launches in October.

“This policy will apply globally to all accounts that advertise these financial products. The financial products and services page will be updated once the policy goes into effect”, it added.

The decision could have a significant impact both on wider consumer access to crypto and on the value of particular cryptocurrencies.

There may also be something of a snowball effect too. Once Google made its original announcement regarding its crypto ad ban, both Facebook and Twitter also launched bans of their own.

When the internet giants’ original decisions were announced, the value of both Bitcoin and Ethereum dropped sharply.

Bitcoin, for example, dropped in value by over 10% when the decision was made.

However, Facebook quickly relaxed its ban, and said that people could buy ad space for crypto provided they were “pre-approved” and met certain other conditions.

Google has not wholeheartedly changed its policies, however. There will still be a large number of crypto-related topics for which adverts are not permitted on the platform, including ICOs and digital wallets.

Adverts referring to binary options, a notorious product which has a low reputation within the industry, are also still not permitted.

Google’s advertising products are highly lucrative for the company and represent almost 90% of its income. According to industry media, Google had already earned over $50 billion US dollars in the first six months of 2018 just from adverts.