There is a huge opportunity for advertising to get in early into cryptocurrency and grow with this growing tribe
I recently read an interesting news report tucked away in one of the pages of Free Press Journal. Cryptocurrency exchange WazirX said it had witnessed a massive 2648% growth in user sign-ups and most of these sign-ups came from Tier II and Tier III cities. Even more interesting was that the participation of women from smaller towns was high and way ahead of their urban counterparts.
This is a huge opportunity for advertising to get in early and grow with this growing tribe - I can already see exciting brand partnership opportunities. It is also an opportunity to educate and create the momentum for crypto trading much in the manner the ‘Mutual Funds Sahi Hai’ campaign did for mutual fund investment.
On the other hand, the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) has brought the communication created by some of the crypto trading companies under its scanner, seeking clearer guidelines. Like most financial advertising, the disclaimer and warnings are not spelt out, but unlike mutual fund advertising, there are no mandatory market rules or regulatory guidelines to follow.
So while CoinDCX’s ‘Bitcoin Liya Kya’ (Have you bought Bitcoin?) and Coin Switch Kuber’s ‘Trade Kar Befikar’ (Don’t Worry, Just Trade) sound like cool, easy access lines, they make it almost too simple. Having Sunita Auntie get a quick comeuppance versus Bitcoin may be a good way of mainstreaming the concept, but it is too early to do so.
YET TO FIGURE IT OUT
This is a currency that the world’s banks and governments are figuring out. There are many similar currencies like Ethereum and Dogecoin, and now lesser-known alt coins to choose from. Some are pegged to the US dollar, and some aren’t. It is volatile and there is no central bank anywhere in the world to prop it. There are maker-trader fees, trade fees, network fees – all the hidden things you discover later.
Financial advertising sells us the dream of becoming rich, being financially secure and securing the future for our children. But the real story rests in the disclaimers which are never communicated clearly enough. The universe is replete with stories of people who planned their financial nest eggs and discovered they hadn’t read the fine print or the taxes applicable and it wasn’t as rosy a picture as they thought it would be. As a very new way of investing, crypto advertising may want to lead with disclaimers and addressing fears.
There are many debates on the high consumption of electricity in mining bitcoins and Tesla maker Elon Musk was pulled up by netizens who reminded him that supporting cryptocurrency while launching a clean-energy electric car was a contradiction in terms. El Salvador, one of the first countries to declare crypto a legal currency is also looking at how to use natural volcanic energy in a way to make this a clean energy currency. This is the subject of another story but since young people are early adopters of this financial trend, it is relevant because they are equally concerned about climate change and the environment. If yours is a cleaner crypto, then it may be a good differentiator story much like we are seeing in the organic vs non-organic vegetable trade.
IS CRYPTO HERE TO STAY?
If Time magazine lets you pay for subscriptions in Bitcoin, Starbucks lets you get your morning latte with crypto (in the US) and TOI’s Economic Times has a regular crypto corner with India and world updates, chances are cryptocurrency is here to stay. Somewhere in Ranchi or Imphal, a young woman may have made her fortune in trade even as I write this. But the numbers in India are still small – 1.5 crore people. Until banks and the Government inspire faith and make it an acceptable investment asset class, numbers will remain restricted to a niche group.
It took years to convince people to invest in mutual funds and at one time, there was a superstitious belief that investing in life insurance by setting a time span for your life would result in inviting death. The rise of crypto as a potentially rewarding alternative investment class is good news for everyone especially advertising and digital agencies. But please don’t make it sound too easy.
(Geeta Rao has been Regional Creative Director, Ogilvy and has devoted many column inches and years to advertising and brands.)
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