The UK arm of tech giant Google is making changes to its financial products and services advertisement policy to fight the rise in online fraud.
The firm had already joined not-for-profit group Stop Scams UK in May 2021 and pledged $5m (£3.6m, €4.2m) in advertising credits to support public awareness campaigns in the UK.
But starting from 6 September 2021, companies looking to promote their financial products and services on Google will face greater checks.
Under the updated policy, they will need to “demonstrate that they are authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority or qualify for one of the limited exemptions described in the UK Financial Services verification page”, said Ronan Harris, vice president and managing director of Google UK and Ireland.
“This new update builds on significant work in partnership with the FCA over the last 18 months to help tackle this issue,” he added.
“[This] announcement reflects significant progress in delivering a safer experience for users, publishers and advertisers. While we understand that this policy update will impact a range of advertisers in the financial services space, our utmost priority is to keep users safe on our platforms — particularly in an area so disproportionately targeted by fraudsters.”
Google’s policy will be updated on 30 August and come into force from 6 September 2021.
Need for legislation
A spokesperson for the FCA said: “We welcome all steps which protect consumers from scams and recognise that this is a positive move from Google. We will review the detail. We want to see continued and concerted efforts by all organisations with an interest in protecting consumers to achieve a sustained reduction in scams.
“It is important that all social media firms ensure that financial promotions using their services comply with UK law, and we expect all social media firms to ensure they are in compliance.
“While this is an important step from Google, we think a permanent and consistent solution requires legislation. We also continue to consider that investment fraud caused by online advertising should be included in the scope of the Online Safety Bill and welcome the Treasury Committee’s recent statement on this.
“We will assess the outcome of Google’s decision once these changes take effect.”
International Adviser revealed in December 2019 that the regulator was working with the tech giant on a tool to verify if advertisers were authorised by the FCA.