SEC Milestone: First-Ever Advisor to Oversee Crypto, ICOs and Digital Ledger Tech

The Securities and Exchange Commission has announced the creation of a new advisory position, signifying an historical break for the emergence of cryptocurrencies and digital ledger technologies, such as blockchain. Valerie A. Szczepanik has been named Associate Director of the Division of Corporation Finance and Senior Advisor for Digital Assets and Innovation for Division Director William Hinman.

Appearing before the US House of Representatives Subcommittee on Capital Markets, Securities, and Investment in April, Hinman explained that the SEC recognizes the merits of blockchain technology and acknowledged that entrepreneurs are finding that ICOs allow “for a different type of enterprise, one that’s more decentralized, which they think has some value.”

Szczepanik’s new advisory role is an effort to address regulatory concerns surrounding the integration of Bitcoin, ICOs, blockchain and cryptocurrencies. One of the SEC’s main stated goals is to protect investors, which has proved particularly challenging in a technologically complex space like cryptocurrencies which are not always understood by policymakers. Numerous fintech companies, such as Ripple and Ethereum are unleashing rapid developments and disruptive innovations, which are leading to strategic partnerships that are bridging old modes and methods with new models and upgraded protocols, allowing cryptocurrency ecosystems and blockchain platforms to infiltrate into mainstream banks and businesses.

“Valerie recognized early on the  securities law implications of developments like blockchain and distributed ledger technologies, and of cryptocurrencies, Initial Coin Offerings, tokenized securities, and other digital instruments,” said Mr. Hinman. “She is a recognized leader in responding to developments in our markets. I am excited to have her join me and the Division’s staff as the SEC continues to collaborate with retail investors, issuers and other market participants, in this important and rapidly evolving area.”

In addition to her new role as Senior Advisor for Digital Assets and Innovation, Szczepanik is the Head of the SEC’s Distributed Ledger Technology Working Group, Co-Head of its Dark Web Working Group and a member of its FinTech Working Group.

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