Following a rollercoaster ride of a year filled with record highs, crashes, and mini-recoveries, it's fair to say that the general public is at a loss regarding what to make of cryptocurrencies in general. Still, as this list of cryptocurrencies by market cap will attest to, the market as a whole represents a high-value juggernaut that isn't going away soon.
That isn't to say that there aren't hurdles that cryptocurrencies will continue to have to overcome. On the contrary, the list of problems seems endless. There have been instances of investor fraud. Major exchanges have been hacked and have lost millions of dollars in customer funds. Regulatory uncertainty is destabilizing prices.
All of those issues, however, represent the growing pains of a brand new market. There is one problem though, that is setting off alarm bells industry-wide. It began over the last few months when tech giants Google and Facebook announced platform-wide bans on all cryptocurrency-related advertising. Now, Twitter and LinkedIn have joined them.
Digital Currency Knocked Offline
For those in the cryptocurrency space, being denied the ability to advertise on the world's largest online platforms is akin to being deprived of oxygen. The tech giants, for their part, claim that their action is meant to protect consumers from fraudulent ICO advertisements. The wide-ranging ban makes no distinctions, though, and that is creating major headaches for the market at large.
It's too early to tell how big of an impact the bans will have on the development of new cryptocurrencies and blockchain technologies. It's also unclear if the industry will even be able to quantify the deleterious effects the bans will produce. The only thing that is certain is that a coalition of industry groups has decided that they're not going to sit idly by and wait to find out the answers.
A Legal Challenge
In response to the bans, a group of previously unrelated cryptocurrency industry associations has come together to form the Eurasian Blockchain Association. The new group is made up of members from the Russian Cryptocurrency and Blockchain Association (RACIB), the Chinese Association of Cryptocurrency Investors (LBTC), and the Korea Venture Business Association (KOVA). The first act of the newly minted coalition was the announcement of their intent to file a lawsuit to challenge the advertising bans.
While no legal action has yet commenced, the group did indicate that theirs would be a class-action lawsuit filed in the U.S. courts. They argue that the bans amount to a tacit agreement by the major online media companies to illegally manipulate the cryptocurrency market. It's also possible that the group could pursue an argument that the bans represent an unconstitutional act of discrimination that interferes with commercial free speech rights. Either way, the eventual ruling will set a precedent for the nascent cryptocurrency industry.
An Uncertain Future
Although it is clear that cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology are here to stay, there's a battle brewing that may alter the trajectory of the market. If the advertising bans are allowed to continue, it may slow advances in the market and delay growth. If the courts deem them inappropriate and therefore illegal, it will be a victory for the cryptocurrency industry that just may set off another boom in the coming months and years.