The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has launched a new office to engage with cryptocurrency and blockchain startups. Called the Strategic Hub for Innovation and Financial Technology (FinHub), the division will make it easier for fintech startups to interact with the regulator on related issues and the legal implications of products before they launch them.
Announced Thursday, October 18, 2018, FinHub will serve as the central point for entrepreneurs in the fintech world, especially groups focusing on new technologies such as blockchains, artificial intelligence, digital marketplace financing and more.
With the number of subpoenas being sent out by the agency and the expansion of its clampdown on blockchain startups that it claims have violated federal securities law, the FinHub can direct entrepreneurs and provide the much-needed clarity on the requirements needed to build compliant platforms and products.
Entrepreneurs and developers will be able to ask questions from the Hub as well as have access to the regulator's views and actions about the fintech space. Startups can also use the portal to request for meetings with the regulator.
The Hub will be led by Valerie A. Szczepanik, the Senior Advisor for Digital Asset and Innovation in the SEC's Division of Corporation Finance, and will be staffed with agency officials with expertise in fintech related issues.
Szczepanik said the SEC has been educating entrepreneurs for a while now but the portal will centralize the process.
“SEC staff across the agency have been engaged for some time in efforts to understand emerging technologies, communicate the agency's stance on new issues, and facilitate beneficial innovations in the securities industry.”
SEC Chairman Jay Clayton believes the portal will provide a "central point of focus" for the agency's "efforts to monitor and engage on innovations in the securities market."
"The SEC is committed to working with investors and market participants on new approaches to capital formation, market structure, and financial services, with an eye toward enhancing, and in no way reducing, investor protection."
The number of cases being pursued by the SEC and its sister agencies has increased over the years. Just last month, the SEC and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) filed charges against securities broker 1pool Ltd for offering security-based swaps funded with Bitcoin, which the agency says violates federal securities law.
The regulator also went after the owners of PlexCoin and issued a cease and desist order to Hedge Fund Crypto Asset Management and its founder Timothy Enneking for misrepresenting the company as the "first regulated crypto asset fund in the United States."