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Google Ad Ban and Regulatory Fears Continue to Weigh on Cryptocurrencies

By Matt Frankel – Mar 15, 2018 at 1:06PM

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Bitcoin and other major cryptocurrencies are dropping, yet again.

It's been a rough week for bitcoin (BTC-USD) and most other major cryptocurrencies, and Thursday isn't shaping up to be much better. All of the top-10 cryptocurrencies by market cap are down by at least 4% as of mid-morning, as it appears that Google's recently announced ban on cryptocurrency advertising and fears of increased regulation are still making investors nervous.

Today's cryptocurrency prices

The best performing cryptocurrency in the top 10 is down by only 4.9% in a rather volatile trading session. Here's a look at the 10 largest cryptocurrencies by market capitalization, and how much each has changed over the past 24 hours.

Cryptocurrency Name (Code)

Price in U.S. Dollars

Day's Change

Bitcoin (BTC)



Ethereum (ETH)



Ripple (XRP)



Bitcoin Cash (BCH)



Litecoin (LTC)



Cardano (ADA)






Stellar (XLM)






Monero (XMR)



Data Source: Prices and daily changes as of Thursday, March 15, 2018 at 11 a.m. EST, and prices are rounded to the nearest cent where appropriate.

Google's crypto-ban continues to scare investors

It's been a couple of days since Google announced that it plans to ban cryptocurrency-related advertisements starting in June, including ads related to ICOs, cryptocurrency exchanges, and services offering cryptocurrency trading advice.

I've certainly seen quite a few ads promoting upcoming ICOs and trading services provided by so-called "crypto-geniuses," so it's fair to assume that the cryptocurrency industry relies rather heavily on these advertisements for revenue.

The obvious goal of the ban is to protect investors from ICOs (many of which are scams) and from putting more money than they can afford to lose into cryptocurrencies. And I don't think most readers would argue with these intentions.

Here's the main concern, in my opinion. The ban on cryptocurrency ads on Google and Facebook's platforms will have little effect on people already involved in the cryptocurrency markets. It's not hard to find a list of upcoming ICOs, for example, if you try. However, for cryptocurrencies to rise in price and become more mainstream, participation from new investors is crucial, and a complete ban on cryptocurrency ads could certainly hurt in this respect.

Metal wheels with regulations, compliance, and related terms written on them.

Image source: Getty Images.

Regulatory uncertainty is bad for cryptocurrencies

Another factor that continues to weigh on the cryptocurrency markets is regulatory uncertainty. The Securities and Exchange Commission has issued warnings to consumers about the dangers of investing in the young market, and recently issued a statement indicating it plans to require cryptocurrency exchanges to register if they sell digital assets that could be considered securities.

Most recently, the House Financial Committee held a hearing on Wednesday, which was called "Examining the Cryptocurrencies and ICO Markets." Among the many topics discussed were the need for compliance by cryptocurrency exchanges, the definition of the roles of the various regulatory agencies, and the need to distinguish between cryptocurrencies that are digitally scarce assets (bitcoin, etc.) and those that are securities (ICOs).

Just as with the Google ad ban, the main target is protecting investors from ICOs and other varieties of crypto-scams, and this could certainly be a very positive factor for the cryptocurrency markets over the long run. For the time being, however, the big question is whether new regulations will define bitcoin and other long-established cryptocurrencies as securities and how they could affect this part of the market.

Suzanne Frey, an executive at Alphabet, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Matthew Frankel has no position in any of the stocks mentioned, but owns Ethereum and Litecoin tokens. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Alphabet (A shares), Alphabet (C shares), and Facebook. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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