Not Necessarily Negative
When Scott Spencer, Director of Sustainable Ads at Google told CNBC yesterday about the search behemoth's new financial services ad policies that ban all crypto-related ads - the news was widely interpreted as negative, with crypto prices plunging 10% or more in 24 hours across the board.
This need not be negative news. In fact, judging from the modus operandi of the malefactors in recent crypto-crimes, it is more likely that Google's new policies will make crypto investing safer and will ultimately be a net positive for crypto markets.
The ban is pretty complete - covering not only ICOs but everything crypto-related - exchanges, wallets, trading, advice, you-name-it. Google did spell out a series of regulatory hoops potential advertisers can jump through to get certified and earn a pass and they indicated that an application form is in the works. But for now, the reclassification of crypto as an "unregulated or speculative financial product" reflects Google's decision to err on the side of caution while regulators are still trying to wrap their heads around the new asset class.
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.
- Scott Spencer, Google's Director of Sustainable Ads
The search engine giant, which posted numbers approaching $100 billion in ad revenue last year, simultaneously released its "bad ads" metrics - a detailed quantitative analysis of the numbers of deceptive, controversial, and malicious ads the company nixes from its massive network every year - the numbers are staggering and comforting at the same time - particularly with respect to the cryptocurrency space.
Google removed more than 3.2 billion ads last year, more than doubling the previous year's numbers. More importantly, they reported removing 79 million ads leading to malware-laden sites and 66 million "trick-to-click" ads.
All Hacks Are Different
The mainstream media, whether through lack of understanding, laziness or malicious demagoguery, likes to depict every crypto hack as equal, with the unmistakable subtext that blockchains and cryptocurrencies are hackable (they're not - while exchanges and wallets are).
Despite this false equivalence constantly reinforced by the popular press, malefactors are continuously re-adjusting their strategy to target the main vulnerability gap - and that gap is shifting.
Now that exchanges are finally wising up to the security lapses that led to the major hacks like Mt. Gox and Coincheck, the biggest risk to cryptocurrency isn't hacking, it's phishing. Two recent attacks - the viacoin pump on Binance and the theft of more than $50 million worth of crypto from Blockchain.info wallet users - clearly demonstrates the shifting M.O. of crypto-thieves, who are now targeting the most vulnerable link in the chain - the human user.
Waiting Out The Regulatory Bewilderment
This is why the Google ban, at least until the regulatory bewilderment can be sorted out, paints a rosy picture for the future of cryptocurrency. Whether exchanges stick around, or if trading eventually becomes purely peer-to-peer, or some combination of the two co-exists, maximal protection at the user level is the best way to assure that new investors can safely enter the crypto-universe.
Images via Shutterstock