On the heels of New York state legislation proposing a digital currency task force, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) went one step ahead and appointed a cryptocurrency advisor on June 4, 2018.
SEC’s Blockchain Push
As per the official announcement, Valerie A. Szczepanik will now spearhead the SEC’s regulatory and security laws pertaining to “digital asset technology and innovation” across cryptocurrencies and initial coin offerings (ICOs).
Valerie Szczepanik (head of the SEC Distributed Ledger Task Force) at a blockchain conference: "Being a regulator in the room is like being the corpse at a funeral. Everyone expects you to be there, but no one really wants you to talk"
— Kevin Werbach (@kwerb) February 3, 2018
In 2017, Szczepanik was among the first SEC officials to comment positively about the emerging industry and appealed to cryptocurrency projects to exercise “fiduciary duties” towards digital asset investors if the industry were to flourish.
The position is newly created, and Szczepanik has a rather long job title: “Associate Director of the Division of Corporation Finance and Senior Advisor for Digital Assets and Innovation for Division Director Bill Hinman.”
The development is a positive sign that the SEC is setting aside manpower and funds for controlled growth of the cryptocurrency industry, regardless of the absence of a defined legal framework.
Years of Experience Under her Belt
Szczepanik is a cybersecurity expert and leads the SEC’s distributed ledger technology (DLT) working group, which identifies risk areas and coordinates efforts between SEC divisions on blockchain technology. SEC Chairman Jay Clayton in a press release:
“With her demonstrated skill, experience, and keen awareness of the importance of fostering innovation while ensuring investor protection, Val is the right person to coordinate our efforts in this dynamic area that has both promise and risk.”
Clayton added that Szczepanik “recognized early on” the various implications of blockchain technology, including ICOs and digital assets.
Regulations Much Awaited
With the vast knowledge and experience that Szczepanik brings to the SEC, the cryptocurrency may face stalling regulations.
The attention on cryptocurrency regulations is paramount in 2018, as the cryptocurrency community speculates the vast amount of institutional capital sitting on the sidelines until defined laws are introduced. The community largely expects that regulations will catalyze a market rally.
The SEC is swiftly making moves in the sector. In May 2018, it launched probes into cryptocurrency exchanges and sent letters to 13 exchange businesses demanding sensitive details. While the future remains to be seen, Szczepanik seems fully primed for her new role:
“I am excited to take on this new role in support of the SEC’s efforts to address digital assets and innovation as it carries out its mission. I look forward to working closely with staff as we provide a coordinated and strategic response to developments.”