Belgian Finance minister tightens advertising rules for virtual coins

Federal Finance minister Vincent Van Peteghem (CD&V) introduces new advertising rules for virtual coins. These should ensure that potential investors are better informed about the risks and protected against rogue providers. In addition, the minister warns of strict controls and possible sanctions in case of violation.

Virtual currencies, such as the well-known variants Bitcoin and Ethereum, are becoming increasingly familiar to the general public. They are widely promoted through advertising campaigns on the internet, in the streets and on shirts of sports clubs.

"Virtual currencies are becoming more and more established in our society. It is important that those who invest in virtual currencies with the best of intentions can do so in full knowledge of the facts," Van Peteghem says in a press release.

Possible risks

The minister argues that too few people are aware of the possible risks, something which he also believes is not made sufficiently clear in advertising campaigns. Nor is the market immune to malafide practices, which are mainly aimed at non-professional investors with insufficient knowledge. ​ For example, the images of well-known people have already been misused several times in advertising campaigns. This has led to various financial dramas in recent months.

"Financial dramas, as we have seen all too often in the press in recent months, must be avoided. We must protect the citizens. That is why strict rules and strict controls are necessary", Van Peteghem claims.

Therefore, the minister is amending the law of 2 August 2002 so that the Financial Services and Markets Authority (FSMA) can impose rules for the advertising and commercialisation of virtual currencies, both for commercial companies and for individuals who promote virtual currencies through social media for a fee. The FSMA will also have a legal basis to punish possible offenders.

Vending machines

It is not the first time that the Finance minister takes a close look at virtual coins. In June 2021, Van Peteghem also tightened the supervision of vending machines that allow people to exchange cash money into crypto coins and vice versa. Since then, the providers have to register with the Financial Services and Markets Authority (FSMA), which supervises them on the basis of the Prevention of Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Act.

According to Van Peteghem, it is certainly not the intention to tackle virtual coins, but to ensure that the trade in them can take place in all transparency and fairness.




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