‘Wild west’: the rise of crypto influencers is ringing alarm bells

’Are you guys into crypto???” Kim Kardashian asked her 250 million followers in June. It was a little different from the red carpet poses, fragrance promotions and assorted members of the Kardashian clan that typically feature on the reality TV star’s Instagram account.

The ubiquitous social media disclaimer of “#ad” dispensed with any notions that Kardashian had personally jumped into the complex world of distributed ledgers, decentralised finance and obscure cryptocurrencies.

A recent Instagram post by Kim Kardashian touting an unknown crypto attracted criticism from the UK finance watchdog. Credit: AP

But the social media post, an advertisement for a relatively minor cryptocurrency called “Ethereum Max”, still qualified as potentially the biggest financial promotion in history.

The same day that Kardashian invited her followers to “join the Ethereum Max community”, its value rose by up to 44 per cent. Taking her advice, however, would not have proven wise. The cryptocurrency has declined by around 90 per cent in the less than three months since. The main beneficiary is likely to have been Kardashian herself, who reportedly makes up to $US500,000 ($677,000) per Instagram advert.

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