SEC Appoints Valerie Szczepanik as “Crypto Tsar”

SEC Appoints Valerie Szczepanik as “Crypto Tsar”

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has named its first “crypto tsar”, appointing Valerie A. Szczepanik as Senior Advisor for Digital Assets and Innovation.

In her new role Ms. Szczepanik will “coordinate efforts across all SEC Divisions and Offices” to ensure the correction application of U.S. securities laws to “emerging digital asset technologies and innovations, including Initial Coin Offerings and cryptocurrencies.

Ms. Szczepanik has a background in both law and engineering and is the current head of the SEC’s Distributed Ledger Technology Working Group as well as the co-head of the Dark Web Working Group and a member of the FinTech Working Group.

According to SEC chair Jay Clayton, “Valerie’s thought leadership in this area is recognized both within the Commission and across financial regulators in the United States and abroad.” Describing the cryptocurrency sector as a “dynamic area that has both promise and risk”, Clayton said that “Val is the right person to coordinate our efforts in this” due to her “keen awareness of the importance of fostering innovation while ensuring investor protection.

Balancing Act

Division Director Bill Hinman added that Ms. Szczepanik cottoned on early to “the securities law implications of developments like blockchain and distributed ledger technologies,” and is “a recognized leader in responding to developments in our markets.

Ms. Szczepanik said that she was “excited” to help the SEC in the complicated balancing act of helping capital formation while maintaining fair markets and protecting investors.

The appointment has been broadly welcomed by a US cryptocurrency community which feels that in Ms. Szczepanik it finally has an experienced regulator with a deep understanding of the opportunities and risks of this new sector.

Emin Gün Sirer, the co-director of initc3 and professor of computer science at Cornell University described it as “fantastic news” and congratulated the SEC “for having a knowledgeable hand at the helm.