Bill Hinman, outgoing director of the Division of Corporation Finance at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, chose to focus one of his latest speeches on the commission’s performance in regulating crypto during his tenure.
In comments published on the Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC, website Nov. 18, Hinman cited the SEC’s record as being open to technologies such as cryptocurrencies and blockchain without the need to overhaul the existing regulatory framework.
“Being able to apply federal securities laws to new and emerging technologies such as digital assets without having to create an entirely new regulatory framework — as some other jurisdictions have had to do — is proof of the flexible nature of our securities regime,” said Hinman. “It has enabled us to keep pace with innovation, facilitate capital formation and protect investors in a considered, thoughtful and effective way.”
He specifically praised his role since joining the committee three years ago in determining whether tokens were securities using the ‘Howey test’. Since the 1940s, the SEC has used this test to determine whether certain assets qualify as “investment contracts” and are considered securities. The SEC’s 2017 DAO report, which stated that digital assets could indeed be eligible, is considered by many to be one of the most important regulatory moments for cryptocurrencies in the United States.
In addition, Hinman was referring to the SEC’s launch of its Strategic Hub for Innovation and Financial Technology, or FinHub, in 2018. The regulatory arm is set up to enable engagement with individuals in FinTech, particularly those engaged in digital assets and distributed ledger technology. Last April, Hinman published a framework with FinHub head Valerie Szczepanik to help market participants determine whether or not digital assets are considered an investment contract and thus a collateral.
According to Hinman, establishing this regulatory path for digital assets has meant that companies that once made unregistered initial coin offerings, or ICOs, now register them as securities and report on their activities.
The SEC announced this on October 27 Hinman would leave the office at the end of the year. Current Deputy Shelley Parratt will reportedly act as Acting Director for the Corporation Finance division at the time.