Google is to follow Facebook and take action against cryptocurrency ads in a crackdown on "unregulated or speculative financial products".
The move follows an earlier decision by Facebook which banned such ads in January after finding that too many of its customers were being misled by cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin.
In a blog post published this morning, Google said it had updated several policies to "address ads in unregulated or speculative financial products like binary options, cryptocurrency, foreign exchange markets and contracts for difference (or CFDs)".
The company said it took down more than 3.2bn ads that violated its advertising policies in 2017, as well as blocking 79m ads in its network that attempted to send users to malware-laden sites. It also removed 400,000 unsafe sites.
Cryptocurrencies including bitcoin, ethereum and ripple are facing increased scrutiny from a number of quarters including regulators and central banks.
The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said bitcoin would require digital asset exchanges to register with the agency, which had sent the cryptocurrency's price plunging below the key $10,000 level.
Japanese regulators then heaped more pressure on bitcoin with its decision to order Bit Station and FSHO to halt operations for a month.
The Bank for International Settlements also warned that any move to issue digital currencies would propel central banks such as the Federal Reserve and the Bank of England into “uncharted territory”, with the prospect of “digital runs” on banks in times of stress.
However, Coinbase, one of the world's top cryptocurrency exchanges, said today it has received a licence from the UK's Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), in what it said was an endorsement that its business meets certain anti-money laundering and processing standards.