The binary options trading industry suffered a massive blow as technology giant Google banned trading apps from its online stores. In new guidelines dated April 2023 at its Developer Policy Center, Google stated that it would not allow apps to be offered in its Google Play app store that would allow users to trade binary options.
This blanket ban followed one issued by Apple in a 2017 update of its App Store Review Guidelines. In a section on “unacceptable” Business Model issues, the guidelines added a line stating that Apple would not permit binary options trading apps in its app store.
Google had earlier stated that, as of June 2023, its Adwords program would ban ads for binary options and similar products. It also banned ads for affiliates and aggregators for these financial products.
These moves followed a request by the Australian corporate regulator to remove apps from Apple and Google’s app stores that offer users unlicensed financial products. The Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) was understood to have presented a list to the tech giants of more than 330 smartphone apps that were offering Australian users unlicensed financial products. Both tech giants responded to ASIC’s request by removing the erring apps from their app stores but had stopped short of implementing a full ban.
ASIC had said that they were concerned not just about the apparent unlicensed activity but also the misleading claims included in the app descriptions. These statements gave a false impression about the profitability of binary options while failing to provide sufficient warning about the risks of trading them.
Senior ASIC official Greg Yanco had said that encouraging the tech giants to block the distribution of these apps was more effective in protecting the interests of investors than education. The senior executive leader of market supervision said that there were over 150 unlicensed providers in the market and that they had to consider the most efficient way of closing them down. The regulator pointed out that providers who were licensed to offer binary options numbered less than 10.
ASIC commissioner Cathie Armour said that since investors could readily conduct trading activities using their smartphones, they had to be sure that the financial product providers they were dealing with were sufficiently licensed. Since the provider could use technology to create anonymity, it was more important than ever for buyers to exercise caution. She added that if something was too good to be true, it likely is.
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