For members of the cryptocurrency community in the United States, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has long been a familiar if hard-to-read regulatory body. As digital currencies have risen to become some of the most popular areas of investment over the past several years, the SEC has hurried to keep pace with the growing interest among both new and seasoned investors. At times, the SEC has made decisions which some in the cryptocurrency world feel could hinder the decentralized digital asset space. Now, Coindesk reports that one of the SEC's top officials on cryptocurrency and digital token sales has been named to a new senior advisory position. The implications for the regulatory body's relationship with the cryptocurrency world more broadly remain unclear.

Valerie Szczepanik in New Role

Valerie Szczepanik, formerly the leader of the SEC's distributed ledger working group, will now act as associate director of the Division of Corporation Finance as well as senior advisor for digital assets and innovation, according to the report. In this new role, Szczepanik will "coordinate efforts across all SEC Divisions and Offices regarding the application of U.S. securities laws to emerging digital asset technologies and innovations, including initial coin offerings and cryptocurrencies."

Szczepanik indicated in a statement that she is "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 to facilitate capital formation, promote fair, orderly, and efficient markets, and protect investors, particularly Main Street investors."

Shift in SEC Focus?

Up to this point, much of the SEC's work in the digital currency space has been focused on alleged scams and frauds, particularly in the area of initial coin offerings. Additionally, the agency has sought to determine what it believes to be best practices for regulating a space that was conceived as autonomous and free of government intervention.

It's unclear whether Szczepanik will aim to continue these efforts as a matter of primary focus or if the SEC will explore new areas of government involvement in cryptocurrencies and related companies. SEC Chair Jay Clayton suggested that digital currencies represent a "dynamic area that has both promise and risk," adding that "Val is the right person to coordinate our efforts" going forward.

Investing in cryptocurrencies and Initial Coin Offerings ("ICOs") is highly risky and speculative, and this article is not a recommendation by Investopedia or the writer to invest in cryptocurrencies or ICOs. Since each individual's situation is unique, a qualified professional should always be consulted before making any financial decisions. Investopedia makes no representations or warranties as to the accuracy or timeliness of the information contained herein. As of the date this article was written, the author owns bitcoin and ripple.