Microsoft’s Search Engine Bing Joins Google, Facebook in Banning Crypto-Related Ads

  • Microsoft-powered search engine Bing has announced it's going to ban cryptocurrency ads by July.
  • The search engine is following similar moves made by Facebook, Google, and Twitter.
  • Despite the ban, Microsoft itself still accepts bitcoin payments.

Bing, a search engine powered by tech giant Microsoft, has recently joined Google, Facebook, and Twitter in banning cryptocurrency-related ads from its platform. The move, according to the company’s announcement, is set to protect users from scammers.

Per Bing’s blog post, the crypto market is unregulated, which to the company means cryptocurrencies “present a possible elevated risk to our users with the potential for bad actors to participate in predatory behaviors, or otherwise scam consumers.”

The announcement, published by Melissa Alsoszatai-Petheo,  reads:

"To help protect our users from this risk, we have made the decision to disallow advertising for cryptocurrency, cryptocurrency related products, and un-regulated binary options. Bing Ads will implement this change to our financial product and services policy globally in June, with enforcement rolling out in late June to early July.”

Melissa Alsoszatai-Petheo

The move sees cryptocurrencies join various legally questionable products and services Microsoft has banned. These include Ponzi schemes, pyramid schemes, and investments in which it’s necessary to add other participants.

Reportedly, the company already policed cryptocurrency ads to block those designed to facilitate illicit activities, including money laundering and terrorist financing. Now, the ban is presumably going to affect all crypto-related ads, including those created by legitimate businesses.

It mimics a similar ban introduced by social media giant Facebook in January, which blocked ads that “promote financial products and services that are frequently associated with misleading or deceptive promotional practices, such as binary options, initial coin offerings, and cryptocurrency.”

As covered, search engine monopoly Google followed Facebook’s footsteps, as it is set to ban cryptocurrency and initial coin offering (ICO) ads in June. Microblogging platform Twitter then revealed a similar move.

Various cryptocurrency associations have since stated they’re planning on suing these companies, alleging there’s a “cartel collusion” being enacted against cryptocurrencies, in an attempt to manipulate the market. Google itself saw other lawsuits, as a disgruntled Russian entrepreneur sued the company, alleging it was hurting his business.

Despite Bing’s ban, Microsoft itself has been accepting bitcoin payments since 2014, and still has a how-to page on its website walking users through the process of adding money to their accounts using the cryptocurrency.

CME Looks to Double Bitcoin Futures Limit, but Is This Wise?

The Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) has a new request for its regulator, as it looks to double open position limits on bitcoin futures contracts in the face of significant interest.

Nasdaq reports that the CME has already petitioned its regulatory body, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CTFC), asking for an increase from 1000 contracts per spot month to 2000 per investor. Each contract represents five BTC, so essentially, at its peak,  a single investor's total position may edge towards a monumental 10,000 BTC.

This is in direct response to the contract's recent growth which is currently depicting record levels of activity, citing $370 million being traded per day. A spokesperson for the CME noted that the idea to increase limits was proposed on the continued maturity of the market:

Based on the significant growth and acceptance of our financially-settled CME Bitcoin futures markets, as well as our analysis of the underlying bitcoin market.

However, as Nasdaq writes the increase in the upper limit of positions is somewhat superfluous. As of July, the number of open interest contracts reached an all-time high of just 6100; given this, it seems the CME may be future-proofing.

Open to Manipulation?

However, concerns remain about the limit increase, as without them, the potential for manipulation rises; often to the detriment to the underlying asset. Although, as per the CTFC website, the threat of manipulation from bitcoin futures contracts is "low":

In general, position limits are not needed for markets where the threat of market manipulation is non-existent or very low.

Instead, Nasdaq posited that this might point to a lessening on the CTFC's strict rule of bitcoin; as well as a maturing of the market in general.

Nevertheless, some believe the CME's bitcoin futures contracts do pose a significant threat to the price of BTC; with some suggesting that blatant manipulation continues unchecked within the market.

As reported, there seems to be a correlation between the expiry dates of CME bitcoin futures contracts and a lull in the price point of BTC. In several instances, a significant drop in bitcoin's price has coincided with a closure from the CME. The most recent example of this occurred on Labor Day, September 2, when bitcoin rose an extraordinary 8% shortly after the CME shut.

Crypto analyst, Alex Kruger, highlighted this, noting the large gaps which formed on the CME chart, from the price discrepancy before and after closing.

This has become a pretty accepted practice within the market. Kruger has even gone to the lengths of compiling statistics each time this phenomenon transpired:

On these occasions, bitcoin cited an average 4.6% price discrepancy following the close of the CME.

Whether this is a coincidence or the market is indeed being actively manipulated is as yet unclear. Either way, with the increase of these limits it might be only a matter of time until we know for sure.

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