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National Bank of Poland Spends close to PLN 100k on YouTube Campaign against Cryptocurrencies. Triggers instant controversy. In December 2017 NBP, the Polish Central Bank launched a PR campaign directed at the Polish people, warning against risks associated with cryptocurrencies.


2018 Update

It has been about a year since the campaign has been launched and it seems like now is a perfect time to examine its effectiveness. Until now, the famous (or notorious?) video by Marcin Dubiel has received slightly over 700,000 views. Note, however, that many (or the majority) of those views are sponsored – in other words, National Bank of Poland has paid for the promotion of these videos. In the same time, a parody video about the Bitcoin and fiat currencies has received nearly 1,900,000 views as of March 2018.

This gives us an idea that the Bitcoin community is quite hard to fight, as it will simply use the same methods to fight back, yet the whole cryptocurrency community seems to be much more advanced in terms of online technologies (and probably in terms of the sense of humour too), hence it can achieve much better results at the fraction at the costs.

The Polish regulator, KNF, also has not lifted its warning to the largest Bitcoin Exchange in Poland – BitBay. Until now BitBay is said to be engaged in the unauthorised provision of payment services and/or issuing electronic money. BitBay is one of the 10 companies warned for this type of service. In the meantime, KNF list of the companies that received notification on suspicion of committing a crime of conducting brokerage activity without the licence of the KNF has hit 96 entries, most of which are composed by various asset management companies, Forex brokerages, consulting companies, and binary options operators.

It does seem quite amusing that the Polish government started picking on the cryptocurrencies while the largest share of the warnings is issues to the financial companies outside of the crypto space.

It was entitled “Watch out for Cryptocurrencies!”.

Poles had the chance to learn about the issue not only from the “official” video clip, but also from several famous YouTubers who were also publishing cautionary clips on their YouTube channels in a surprising coincidence.

It isn’t hard to figure out that this strange activity aimed at discrediting cryptocurrencies was synchronized and coordinated.

Following the campaign, the NBP was asked, under the rules of access to public information to disclose how much had been spent on the campaign and the recipient of the payments.

It transpires that the bank spent nearly PLN 100k (approx. EUR 25k) advertising the campaign on Facebook, Google and using the aforementioned Youtubers. One of the main recipients of public money was Gamelan Sp. z o.o. (limited liability company) which cooperates with Marcin Dubiel, author of “I lost all my money?!”

Even though the NBP wasn’t very forthcoming in naming particular video clips which had been sponsored with public money, we can only assume that all the videos sharing the same key points from NBP’s campaign were inspired by the Central Bank.

The whole campaign – ‘Watch out for cryptocurrencies” – was widely criticized by number of commentators including many moderates. This was due to the information being unclear, several generalizations over some specific features and bending of facts to fit the main theme.

For example, the website created for the campaign lists risks associated with cryptocurrencies. However, some of them are so generic, that they easily fit traditional cash or foreign currencies risks as well.

Another criticism of the campaign has been that it is considered fear mongering rather than educational. The fact that cryptocurrencies are a becoming a fact of life should lead to warnings rather than blanket criticism. A more useful exercise would have been a balanced educational website providing practical information on cryptocurrency and the related technology.

While the Royal Mint in UK is looking to launch their own cryptocurrency backed with gold, the Polish government is looking for ways to scare people, regulate their access to cryptocurrencies and maybe even attempt to ban them completely.

The reaction of the trading community was immediate.

First, YouTubers who were outside the loop of payments from the NBP began to wonder why there were such a number of similar clips appearing simultaneously. Then, the Trading Jam Session Foundation which brings together thousands of traders interested in social learning and quality education launched their own campaign mischievously entitled “watch out for currencies”

The so-called ‘street’ welcomed it very warmly.

In the meantime, at the beginning of February, the Polish Regulator (KNF – Committee of Financial Supervisory) issued warning against BitBay, the largest Polish Bitcoin exchange, and targeted few other exchanges.

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