In FCAT, Bitcoin is not something we’ll get around to someday. We’ve been developing use cases for years, tinkering and adjusting, and then tweaking some more. FCAT’s pioneering work with Bitcoin has influenced numerous initiatives around Fidelity, but that is not the only way we have leveraged this digital asset.
In FCAT, we mine it.
Ryan is FCAT’s Director of Bitcoin Mining, where he leads a small team that focuses its efforts on not only mining, but the ways in which they can do it more cleanly and efficiently.
He has spent his entire professional career at Fidelity, making diverse stops along the way as he grew into the go-to mining guy for the company. Ryan has worked for Fidelity since 2015 and lives in the Boston area.
Q: You started at Fidelity with an internship?
A: I did. It was in tax services. I knew nothing about cost basis or the tax record-keeping piece that's required for investing. I learned a lot about how our operations organization is structured. In that internship I was part of a larger group of young professionals, and I got a pretty good view into the rest of Fidelity and how the firm works. I met some great people during my internship — that’s what pushed me to apply for a full-time role. After my internship I worked in collateral risk which was really fascinating. That role gave me a lot of foundational knowledge about the financial services industry.
Q: How did you come to work in FCAT?
A: People began really paying attention to digital assets in 2017 and 2018 with the first run up in the price of Bitcoin; this is when the mass media started covering it. I got tapped to support a side project in collateral risk where we started researching blockchains and distributed ledgers and their use cases within financial services. Before long this became more of my day-to-day role. During this time I had started coordinating with the blockchain incubator in FCAT, because our work was very similar. Eventually Jason Ward said, “Hey — do you want to come join us?” I worked with the blockchain incubator for a couple of years before I moved into mining.
Q: Why mining?
A: I’ve always found the market dynamics around mining to be really fascinating. There are just so many operational pieces that are unique, such as mining’s relationship with the power grid and, increasingly, renewable energy. We’ve experimented with different types of renewables to power mining datacenters, which has been really interesting and, in some cases, presented a lot of operational challenges. I’m keenly focused on opportunities for mining to accelerate the construction and adoption of renewables. Additionally, miners are well-positioned to help stabilize the electrical grid through demand response. If there is an imbalance in the grid — let’s say demand spikes during a time of inadequate power supply — miners can quickly curtail their loads. This could bring a new level of flexibility to our power delivery system, which will become more important as more of our power comes from renewable sources, as those sources are generally more intermittent in their generation than power coming from other sources, like a fossil fuel power plant.
Our experimentation in the space has been quite the learning curve, as a lot of our proof-of-concepts are physical in nature, a big change for FCAT where many of the technologies we experiment are not necessarily physical.
Ultimately, our mining operation is a small part of what Fidelity does, but we believe it’s important to explore this space because mining is critical to the function and security of bitcoin. Additionally, our participation as a miner enables us to stay informed about the updates to the ecosystem and network, which in turn helps us develop innovative products and solutions.
Q: Why did you get involved with the Crypto Brief podcast?
A: I think it’s important that we educate more people about this space. These are fairly difficult technical concepts and I feel as though the gap is widening between the experts and the people who know nothing about it. This technology ecosystem is designed to improve the daily lives of users, increase financial inclusion, and make business processes more efficient. But it is evolving in a way that could leave a large portion of potential users behind. My goal with the podcast is to provide educational resources and good conversation to help explain these technical concepts. I want to increase understanding and increase adoption, so the ecosystem moves forward in a way that helps it achieve its fullest potential.
Q: When you’re not mining, how do you like to spend your time?
A: At the beach. I love the sand. Boats, fishing, lobstering, clamming, you name it. I like to spend a lot of time outdoors. Living in New England, I had planned to start snowboarding this year, but life got in the way.
Q: Next year then?
Tune into the Crypto Brief every Tuesday to hear Ryan and co-hosts Jack, Jason and Parth dig beneath the surface and analyze the latest crypto news and trends. Now available on Apple, Google Podcasts and Spotify. Connect with Ryan on LinkedIn.