Australian regulators report that they have found hundreds of mobile apps from unregistered firms and individuals, many of them offering binary options trading.
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) reports that its review of various mobile app stores, such as those operated by Apple Inc. and Google, found more than 330 apps that are being offered by unlicensed providers. Almost two-thirds of those (63%) are from binary options issuers, and aim to facilitate trading these highly risky instruments.
The ASIC reports that many of the apps contain apparently misleading statements about the profitability of trading. Most do not outline the risks of trading binary options, and some apps from brokers create the impression that they are the issuer of binary options. Many did not disclose referral fees. Some purported educational apps were merely collecting personal information to be used for high-pressure cold calling.
The ASIC says that Apple and Google quickly removed the apps that it identified from their respective app stores, and that Apple has now banned apps that facilitate binary options trading.
“This is a timely reminder for investors to remain vigilant and not fall for flashy advertising or hard selling,” ASIC commissioner Cathie Armour said in a statement. “Investors also need to make sure any financial service provider, regardless of the way that financial service is being provided, is adequately licensed and authorized to provide those services.
“In an age where technology can hide who is offering and controlling a product, ‘buyer beware’ has never been so important,” Armour added. “If something appears too good to be true, it probably is.”
Canadian regulators have been targeting binary options trading scams, warning investors and trying to cut off their ability to advertise to prospective victims online.