Meet the Team Series: Fernando Krell

August 18, 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 spoke with Fernando Krell, who works as a full-time Lead Cryptography Engineer at Findora. We talked about some of his responsibilities at Findora and what drew him into joining the project.

Fernando was the first full-time Cryptography Engineer to join Findora. He works closely alongside our CTO and co-founder Ben Fisch; the two of whom had previously worked together in a few settings. Ben and Fernando did research into query privacy during the time Fernando was getting his Ph.D. in cryptography at Columbia University. Before becoming a cryptographer, Fernando already had an affinity and love for math. In his home country of Chile, he attended one of the top engineering schools at the Universidad de Chile. Here he found out that he enjoyed computer science and decided to pursue a CS engineering degree. By the end of the program, Fernando discovered cryptography and was fascinated by the combination of randomness, mathematics, and computer science involved. This eventually led him to complete his Ph.D. in cryptography.

Fernando told us that his prior experience with Ben played a large role in his decision to join Findora:

“Knowing how smart and hard-working Ben is made it very attractive for me to work with him again. Besides that, I believe that Findora can provide real value. Many blockchain projects don’t have any privacy techniques in their technology stack. And the few that do, don’t consider auditability, making them unsuitable for many real-life problems, especially in financial applications that require compliance. Findora is designed to solve real problems in finance by enabling privacy-preserving transparency. This allows applications to comply with regulations while remaining confidential to the public. Knowing that I can do something highly innovative, yet also make a real difference in the world led me to work on Findora.”

At Findora, Fernando focuses on directly applying advanced cryptographic tools, such as zero-knowledge proofs, to issues present in the financial industry today. Fernando advocates for a use-case driven approach when implementing practical cryptographic features. His strategy has proven to be very effective, as can be seen in Findora’s industry-leading performance across many specific applications. In 2019, Findora began expanding the cryptography team, and as the Senior Cryptographer, Fernando has taken it upon himself to lead the cryptography team under Ben Fisch’s guidance as CTO.

In order to better understand the intricacies of being a Cryptography Engineer, Fernando shared some of the considerations that go into the job:

“Many of the decisions we make directly shape the future of Findora. It is very important that we try to avoid technical debt by choosing the right tools. This is especially hard in the area of zk-SNARKs since the field is advancing at an extremely fast pace during the last couple of years. For example, for confidential transactions, we can use the Bulletproofs zero-knowledge system to prove the correctness of a confidential amount. While Bulletproofs are the most efficient solution for this feature, if we expand privacy by adding anonymity to a transaction, this is suddenly no longer the case. In that case, we require a zk-SNARK that scales well with higher complexity operations, such as Supersonic.

As you can see, for every application we have to carefully research alternatives and analyze the available technologies. If we don’t, we’ll fail in providing the most secure and efficient protocol for confidential applications. The complexity of the decision relies on the trade-offs between sender and verification complexity, transaction data overhead, and trusted vs trustless setup assumptions. These are not only technical considerations but business as well. We also always need to design for modularity, since innovations in this field are happening at a staggering rate, we need to be prepared to continuously upgrade our technology. Juggling all these different aspects requires extensive knowledge, experience, and foresight.”

To close things off, Fernando shared with us some of his personal ambitions: “I find that protecting privacy is a fundamental value for society. With Findora we are creating a platform that will empower anyone to access financial services in a privacy-preserving, yet compliant manner. I believe we truly have the potential to change the world for the better.”