Meet the Team Series: Ben Fisch

July 31, 2020 inTeamby Findora

Findora is actively hiring passionate and driven team members to build an accessible and privacy-empowering global finance network.

The team at Findora consists of highly skilled individuals, many of whom are paving the way forward in their respective fields. We’d like to introduce you to these individuals through our meet the team series. This week we had the pleasure of speaking with Ben Fisch, co-founder and CTO of Findora. He told us about his personal experience prior to starting Findora and what it is we are building at Findora.

Prior to studying math and cryptography, Ben was planning to be a musician and composer, playing the trumpet in jazz/funk groups. In the present day, however, Ben is a Ph.D. student in the computer science department at Stanford. His research spans a wide variety of topics, ranging from verifiable computation, authenticated data structures, and zero-knowledge to accumulators and verifiable delay functions (VDFs). His research has had a large impact on several open-source blockchain projects, including Filecoin, Chia, and Ethereum 2.0.

While working on this technology, both at Stanford and through involvement in numerous cryptocurrency projects, Ben truly understood the great potential his research held to broadly transform finance for the better. Purely applying these techniques to cryptocurrency was too narrow, and far from most of the real-world financial problems. This is why Ben decided to start Findora.

Ben went on to explain: “Findora is building multi-purpose financial infrastructure. It can simply replace the infrastructure that traditional banks run on, just the same as it can be operated by a decentralized network of operators similar to the bitcoin or ethereum network. It is a platform for issuing assets, not specifically cryptocurrency. It subsumes cryptocurrency and repurposes the underlying technology used for cryptocurrencies to a much broader class of assets.

This movement had already begun, with platforms like Ethereum being used to issue other kinds of assets — digital dollars, real estate titles, etc. But while other projects are predominantly focussed on supporting a novel cryptocurrency, and treat other assets as an add-on, Findora’s mission is to address the challenges necessary to support this broader class of assets and financial use cases. One of the primary barriers in the way is providing confidentiality while retaining the transparency and public accessibility of other blockchains. Achieving this privacy-preserving transparency has been a major focus at Findora.”

This is where Ben’s research comes into play. By combining zero-knowledge proofs and authenticated data structures, we are able to achieve all the hallmarks of a blockchain, such as preventing double-spends, while keeping the underlying data confidential, even from the validators. In other words, we create a network in which anyone is able to verify that the rules are being followed, yet unlike typical blockchain systems, keeps all user data private.

As CTO at Findora, Ben oversees both the research and engineering teams, to ensure that we are taking the right technical decisions and prioritize correctly to meet all the business needs. He also works on the technical aspects of partnerships and product planning. What Ben truly loves about his role in this niche industry is that research and engineering are not so far apart. This means that he can constantly invent new ideas and see them integrated into our products immediately. For instance, Supersonic, which is by far the most efficient zero-knowledge proof for complex statements without a trusted setup, was invented by Ben and colleagues Benedikt Bünz and Alan Szepieniec in 2019 and is already implemented in Findora.

Finally Ben left us with a message as to why he believes Findora will be successful in its mission: “Findora will succeed because of the people who make up this team, from engineering to research to business. We have the talent and the energy. We’re not philosophers tied to some abstract goal. We’re here to apply our knowledge and experience to solving concrete problems. We see this as a dynamic process. We’re nimble and able to adapt.”