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Pro-digital currency Bill Hinman to leave SEC director post

William Hinman is leaving his role as a director at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) later this year. Hinman joined the regulator at a time when the digital currency industry was blowing up and was instrumental in the SEC’s outlook on the industry.

Announcing Hinman’s departure, SEC chair Jay Clayton described him as a great leader whose contributions to the SEC “are remarkable in their breadth and substance.” Under his tenure, the Division of Corporation Finance had moved nearly 50 proposed or final rules, each intended to benefit and protect investors.

In the digital currency industry, he will be remembered for proposing that the SEC should consider the level of decentralization of a digital currency before classifying it a security. Hinman stated this in June 2018 at a time when the SEC looked to be on the cusp of categorizing most digital currencies, if not all, as securities.

Hinman was also the driving force behind the creation of the SEC’s Strategic Hub for Innovation and Financial Technology (FinHub). The regulator launched FinHub in October 2018 “to engage with fintech industry participants and the development of a framework to assist market participants as they analyze whether a digital asset is offered and sold as a security subject to the federal securities laws.”

The SEC recognized Hinman’s efforts in advancing the Commission’s regulatory role in the digital currency industry, stating in its press release, “Mr. Hinman led efforts regarding the rapid innovation in digital assets, including by providing a framework that market participants could use to evaluate whether digital assets are offered and sold as securities.”

While Hinman may have played his part in giving the SEC better oversight of the industry, the Commission is still a long way off from fully implementing a regulatory framework that fully works. This is perhaps best reflected by Commissioner Hester Peirce, better known as Crypto Mom. Peirce has constantly objected to a number of SEC decisions that have gone against the industry.

One of the most contentious is the SEC’s objection to a policy change that would have paved the way for the first digital currency exchange traded fund (ETF). Peirce criticized the decision, claiming it signaled that the SEC was unwelcoming of innovation in the market.

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