Advertising Crypto Currencies in Spain Is Now Subject to Administrative Control

Earlier this year a local crypto exchange, Bit2me, deployed a massive campaign promoting bitcoin in Madrid and Barcelona. The firm put over 800 posters across the Spanish capital city, and some of them very close to the CNMV headquarters (the Capital Markets’ Spanish authority).

The situation has indeed been worrying to the Spanish economic authorities (Banco de España) for a long time now. Indeed in 2018 the CNMV and the Banco de España informed on the risks of cryptocurrencies highlighting that, no cryptocurrency issue or ICO has been registered, authorized or verified by any supervisory agencies in Spain, and therefore none enjoyed any of the guarantees or safeguards envisaged under the regulations on banking or investment products.

These facts triggered some pre-regulation on crypto assets that has been adopted in a rush and within a new royal-decree  (Royal Decree 5/2021 dated 12 March on extraordinary measures to support business solvency in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, a reform to the Spanish Capital Markets Act ), with the aim of protecting retail potential investors in digital financial instruments and assets.

The worrisome increased since numerous cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin and Ether, have experienced high price volatility, accompanied, as indicated above by a significant increase in advertising to attract investors.

Recognizing that there is no specific regulation at European level governing the advertising of crypto-assets, the Royal Decree is based on the premise that this technology represents three main risks to society i.e. (1) use for illegal purposes behind the shield of anonymity; (2) proper safekeeping of the keys for the protection of clients (3) the accessibility to the general public.

The new Royal Decree grants the CNMV (as the financial services regulator), supervisory powers to control the advertising of crypto-assets For such purposes, the CNMV needs to draft regulations on the scope and content of the rules that crypto advertising should comply with.

Ignacio Temino, Abril Abogados

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