The Controversy Over The BBC’s Cancellation of a Cryptocurrency Documentary

The BBC has always had a reputation for being late to talk about new and emerging technologies, so when the BBC announced that they were planning to create a documentary about a cryptocurrency millionaire; a lot of people were shocked. What’s more shocking, however, is that having already spent time producing the documentary the BBC pulled the plug on the program last minute – so what happened?

Who Is Hanad Hassan?

Hanad Hassan claimed to be a self-made millionaire, having turned a £37 investment into almost £6 million in just 9 months. The 20-year-old Birmingham resident said that he had become wealthy by trading cryptocurrency and had managed to get a 16,000,000% return on investment in under a year. The BBC filmed him in his city-center flat and driving his £30,000 BMW.

Hassan isn’t the only person to become incredibly wealthy off the back of a cryptocurrency win, so what made him so special that the BBC wanted to create a documentary about him, and a topic that they hadn’t featured very often before? He said that he wanted to give back to the community.

What Is The Controversy?

The documentary followed Hassan around Birmingham as he delivered the money to food banks around the city and its suburbs. The money reportedly came from a charitable cryptocurrency project that he set up, called Orfano. Hassan claimed that he had set up the coin to enable him to donate the profits to good causes, promising to donate 3% of every transaction to charity, and he allegedly donated $270,000 to good causes. However, the coin was discontinued in October with no warning. He has denied any claims that it was a “rug pull” scam, but several investors have lost their life savings as a result of believing in the Orfano project.

Orfano isn’t the first crypto scam that seemed convincing, but it is the first time that someone has taken advantage of the public desire to help people as well as being one of the most high profile scams, with Hassan even conning the BBC into making a documentary about him. Earlier this year TIME Wonderland also hit mainstream news after it became apparent that the treasurer, who had been using a screen name to stay anonymous, was a convicted felon arrested on charges of fraud, burglary, and grand larceny. The treasurer had stolen $133 million from the project.

The Popularity of Cryptocurrency

As cryptocurrency gets more popular in mainstream culture an increasing number of scams are appearing that are catching out even the savviest investors. The crypto market is known for being poorly regulated but with the recent news of HMRC seizing a large quantity of cryptocurrency alongside 3 NFTs, it’s only a matter of time until it becomes more heavily regulated.

A good comparison to draw is that of the iGaming market. The industry was almost entirely unregulated in the UK before 2005. When the Gambling Commission was eventually created it was only to stop customers from being scammed by requiring bookmakers to go through checks and follow regulations. This was followed by anti-money laundering regulations being brought in, which meant that every gambler had to have their ID checked to ensure that they were a real person and of age. Following on from this, it took until 2019 to start putting regulations in place that protected customers from harm.

The Safety of Betting in the UK

Even nearly 20 years after the Gambling Commission was created, changes are still being put in place to further protect customers. A lot of the current conversation focuses on advertising. For several decades it has been illegal to advertise any form of gambling on TV before 9 pm. However, a large number of bookmakers have taken advantage of a loophole in the law which resulted in them being able to get on TV before 9 pm by sponsoring team uniforms and pitch hoardings. 

Even with heavy regulation, there is still a range of different payment options and different brands competing in the space. For example, there is a range of PayPal casino options, but also Trustly and PaySafeCard. Regulation has helped to ensure that betting within the UK is safe and that gambling operators offer fair gambling to all, and this is something that the Cryptocurrency industry may well follow suit with.

The Future of Cryptocurrency

After almost 2 decades, these loopholes are finally being re-examined this year. The course of legitimizing and regulating cryptocurrency may well take the same path, but it’s likely that any regulations will come into effect much faster as a result of the speed at which the popularity of the crypto market is taking off. The government also has the benefit of experience from regulating the gaming industry.

Although Cryptocurrency is nothing new, it is only really within the past couple of years that it has started to become more popular in the mainstream and as such, the UK government hasn’t necessarily been able to keep up as much as they would like with setting legislation in place. However, there will be mixed thoughts around this as one of the things that lots of Cryptocurrency investors like is the fact that digital currency is anonymous and largely unregulated, which means that it stays off the radar. People are likely to be worried about how regulations can be introduced without Cryptocurrency becoming more traceable and public, which could affect who uses Cryptocurrency and what it is used for.

So, although there is likely to be some regulation within the Cryptocurrency and digital currency industries, it will need to walk a fine line between keeping everyone safe and putting people off of it altogether. This could be one of the reasons why regulations haven’t yet been announced and governing bodies work hard to work out what the best way to approach this will be and how they can introduce rules that are likely to keep everyone happy. As yet, nothing has been confirmed so we’ll need to wait and see for sure what the future looks like for Cryptocurrency and whether documentaries like the one by the BBC will have any bearing on decisions made.

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