Hi I'm Brian LaMacchia

cryptographer and computer security specialist

IACR 2019 Election: Short Statement for Treasurer

I have served on the IACR Board of Directors since 2015 and as Treasurer since 2017. Over the past three years I’ve improved our banking, credit card processing and accounting systems. I seek a second term as Treasurer to continue improving the IACR’s financial systems.

Long Statement

Dear fellow members of the IACR,

For the past three years it has been my honor to serve as your Treasurer. During that time I have made a number of improvements to our financial operations and banking and accounting systems. For this long statement I thought it would be helpful to outline the major changes I have overseen during my term as Treasurer:

  1. Credit card processing: Shortly after beginning my term I started analyzing how much the IACR was paying for credit card processing with our existing bank. The fees were not very transparent, but after analysis I determined that the IACR was paying on average 6.2% to process a credit card transaction, significantly higher than fees commonly available today. When I requested an account review and lower rate our bank came back with 5.9%, so I began investigating other options. Stripe's default service offered 2.9%+$0.30 a transaction, and then when I inquired about opening an account for a non-profit they said they had an even lower rate for non-profit organizations like the IACR. Working with Membership Secretary Douglas Stebila we migrated the IACR's credit card processing to Stripe, where we now average about 2.4% processing fees across all IACR events. I estimate that moving to Stripe has to date saved the IACR approximately $128,000 in credit card processing fees.
  2. Bank account diversification: Concurrent with the analysis of our merchant services agreement I also closed some bank accounts we no longer used and diversified our cash holdings to get better interest rates on savings. As part of this diversification we now have the ability to open sub-accounts for US-based IACR events that need them.
  3. Quickbooks updates: The IACR uses Quickbooks for bookkeeping and accounting. I re-architected our chart of accounts in Quickbooks so that we could generate additional useful reports and enable yearly budgeting for the Association's non-conference operating expenses.
  4. RWC merger: As a member of both the Real World Crypto Steering Committee and the IACR Board I helped negotiate RWC joining the IACR and facilitated the merger.
  5. Currency exchange fees: Toward the end of 2018 I started looking at how much the IACR was paying in currency exchange fees when we wired funds to non-US accounts, such as when we send seed funds to local conference accounts for events outside the US. Wells Fargo (our existing international wire transfer bank) embeds a fee into the currency exchange rate that they charge us on international wires (plus they charge us a fee for the wire). While exchange rates fluctuate, we were paying about 3% on each transfer. There are now a number of new players in this space that offer discount currency exchange facilities and some of them are licensed to do business in the US. After investigating the options available to the IACR we opened a currency exchange account with TransferWise. Although TransferWise's exchange fees vary by currency, they are significantly lower than what we pay through Wells Fargo (for example, for USD->EUR we pay less than 0.5%).
  6. IACR Investment Policy and Management: Working with the other members of the IACR's Investment Committee (formerly the Endowment Committee), we created for the Board a new Investment Policy Statement to govern how the IACR should invest long-term assets (such as those comprising the Cryptography Research Fund for Student Speakers). The new IPS directs the Treasurer to invest in a mix of low-cost index-based mutual funds and/or ETFs broadly diversified across US and internal equity and bond markets. Implementation of the IPS is underway.

Working together with the Board over the past three years we have greatly improved the efficiency of the IACR's financial systems, but they are still in transition and there is more modernization work to do. I am running for a second term as Treasurer in order to complete these projects and continue to administer the IACR's assets in a fiscally sound manner.