SEC’s New Fintech Hub Helps Blockchain Startups Navigate ICO Rules

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The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced today the launch of a “New Strategic Hub for Innovation and Financial Technology.”

In a surprising move, the project — dubbed “FinHub” — allows blockchain innovators and initial coin offering (ICO) operators, among other fintech stakeholders, to speak with the SEC directly on rules and market integrity. As the project’s website states:

“FinHub will play an important role in facilitating the SEC’s active engagement with innovators, developers, and entrepreneurs. In addition to being a resource for information about the SEC’s views and actions in the FinTech space, FinHub is also a forum for engaging with SEC staff.”

The SEC has opened up the FinHub amid their ongoing crackdown on fraudulent ICO operators, and illegal securities offerings, as CCN reported. Other countries globally are clarifying and easing regulations for ICOs and fundraisers, including Japan and the EU. Additionally, at nearly every hearing with industry experts, SEC members have been repeatedly told that rules need to be accommodative to keep talent and capital in the United States. The SEC seems to be taking those recommendations seriously.

While FinHub supports other fintech verticals, including automated investing and artificial intelligence, digital assets are at the forefront. The hub encourages potential ICOs and exchanges to reach out to them directly for a consultation with actual SEC staff.

Perhaps a breath of fresh air for entrepreneurs who remain in the dark about regulations or edge cases, the option to discuss the rules with the actual regulators. While some industry stakeholders have stated the regulations are sufficiently clear, others have publicly rebuked the SEC’s handling of the nascent industry, especially as it comes to ICO regulations and pending ETF applications. There is perhaps contention behind closed doors at the department, but these latest developments are firming up their SEC’s stance on digital assets.

As SEC Chairman Jay Clayton said:

“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 FinHub provides a central point of focus for our efforts to monitor and engage on innovations in the securities markets that hold promise, but which also require a flexible, prompt regulatory response to execute our mission.”

The hub will be led by Valerie A. Szczepanik, Senior Advisor for Digital Assets and Innovation and Associate Director in the SEC’s Division of Corporation Finance. As CCN reported, the SEC appointed Szczepanik to head up the first-of-its-kind regulatory division.

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