Crypto memes could soon be regulated in the UK

The UK regulator is mulling whether to bring crypto memes under updated guidance on financial promotions, including across social media


Peace-loving/Shutterstock modified by Blockworks


Crypto startups, engagement farmers and memecoin fans beware: UK authorities may soon come for crypto memes. 

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) wants to modernize its rules around online financial product promotions to better enforce compliance on social media.

Its most recent guidance, published in 2015, doesn’t mention crypto at all. The FCA has now opened a consultation on whether to bring crypto memes under the remit of those official UK rules.

“Firms are reminded that any type of communication is capable of being a financial promotion and subject to S21 [part of the law governing financial promotions],” the agency said.

“We have seen memes and other similar communications circulated on social media with users often not realizing they are subject to our rules.”

This means financial promotion restrictions could extend to memes on platforms like Twitter, Reddit and Telegram. Some projects (memecoins) base almost their entire value proposition on memes, with the FCA saying promotions featuring memes are “particularly prevalent” in crypto.

Example of a promotional crypto meme from FCA

By providing clear guidelines on memes, the FCA aims to prevent misleading or deceptive practices in online promotional activities.

“We want people to stay on the right side of our rules, so we’re updating our guidance to clarify what we expect of firms when marketing financial products online,” said Lucy Castledine, the FCA’s director of consumer investments. 

“And for those touting products illegally, we will be taking action against you.”

The FCA’s posturing comes as part of broader efforts to regulate crypto advertisements targeting UK consumers.

A marketing campaign for memecoin floki inu (FLOKI), which included advertisements across the London Underground, was shut down by UK authorities last year.

Earlier this month, the regulatory authority announced that crypto firms must comply with new advertising rules by Oct. 8, or risk imprisonment or unlimited fines.

Scrutiny of casual communications in financial promotions is happening outside the UK, too. 

In February, a New York federal judge ruled that emojis — rocket ships, money bags and stock charts — in promotions for Dapper Labs’ NFT project NBA Top Shots could be financial advice implying potential returns on investment.

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