SEC Announces New Standalone Office Dedicated To Digital Assets And Blockchain

Forbes
12/04/2020

The Securities and Exchange Commission announced yesterday that the Strategic Hub for Innovation and Financial Technology, commonly referred to as FinHub, will become a standalone office. Valerie A. Szczepanik will continue to lead FinHub as the first director of the office and will report directly to the SEC Chairman.

"The scope and complexity of FinHub's work has continued to evolve and expand as technology itself has evolved," said Ms. Szczepanik. "This organizational shift will facilitate the agency's agility and flexibility to work with market participants and regulators worldwide, and to encourage leading-edge innovation that will shape the intersection between the federal securities laws and technology."

Established within the Division of Corporation Finance in 2018, FinHub has spearheaded agency efforts to encourage responsible innovation in the financial sector, including in evolving areas such as distributed ledger technology and digital assets, automated investment advice, digital marketplace financing, and artificial intelligence and machine learning.

"Our action to establish FinHub as standalone office furthers our commitment to facilitate the introduction of new technologies for the benefit of investors and the efficiency and resiliency of our markets,” said SEC Chairman Jay Clayton.

“Today's announcement is evidence of continued maturation of the blockchain and digital assets space, and is an important step forward in the SEC's engagement with new and emerging technologies,” said Stephen D. Palley, Partner at Anderson Kill. Palley further stated, “Industry participants have regularly asked for guidance from regulators and this designation shows the SEC's responsiveness to the request and hopefully encourages innovators to take prudent steps to engage with SEC staff while working in the heavily regulated securities space.”

The office will continue to lead the agency's work to identify and analyze emerging financial technologies affecting the future of the securities industry, and engage with market participants, as technologies develop. As Director of FinHub, Ms. Szczepanik will coordinate the analysis of emerging financial innovations and technologies across the SEC's divisions and offices and with global regulators and will advise the Commission and SEC staff as they develop and implement policies this area.

“Valerie Szczepanik’s appointment as the new office’s first director, reporting directly to the SEC Chair, I believe, reflects confidence in her leadership of FinHub to date, including outreach to, and interactions with, innovative market participants and other regulators alike. To me, FinHub becoming a standalone entity signals a belief in the continued growth and increasing significance of the digital asset and broader FinTech industries,” said Joshua Klayman, Senior Counsel, Global Tech Sector Co-Head, US Head of FinTech, Head of Blockchain & Digital Assets at Linklaters LLP as well as a fellow Forbes contributor.

There is a perception often held by the cryptocurrency and blockchain community that the U.S. regulators do not really understand the technology. As Szczepanik herself received her JD from Georgetown University and her Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania, this concept does not appear true as to who is forging ahead on digital assets and blockchain technology at the SEC.

Link to article on Forbes website

 

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