Alex Leishman and On the Brink

Alex Leishman joined Matt Walsh and Nic Carter from On the Brink to discuss why he decided to build a brokerage as opposed to an exchange, the role of Bitcoin custodial institutions as good stewards of blockspace, and the feasibility of implementing proof of reserves.

As a brokerage, Alex wanted to focus on simplicity. Exchanges can be an intimidating experience to those who are unfamiliar with trading. They have order books, candlestick charts, and various types of orders customers can place. On the other hand, brokerages are very straight forward. For example, River Financial makes it easy for our clients to buy Bitcoin through a click of a button.

“The goal of River isn’t to build an exchange or market infrastructure. It’s to be consumer focused and to build relationships with our clients.“

- Alexander Leishman

Alex also touched on how being a good steward of Bitcoin’s blockspace is a priority for River. As Bitcoin institutions constitute the majority of its transactional volume, how they use Bitcoin is important. Historically, these institutions have not adopted technologies, such as Segwit and batching, and simply passed on the higher fees onto their users. However because of River’s singular focus on Bitcoin, Alex noted that we are able to quickly implement these kinds of tools and have even prepared our infrastructure to support future tech such as Schnorr signatures.

Finally, Alex, Matt, and Nic had a frank discussion around the concept of proof of reserves and the level of transparency a Bitcoin financial institution could share with its users. Because Bitcoin is an open and decentralized ledger, these institutions could cryptographically prove how much Bitcoin they keep in reserve. Although Alex shared that this was a step in the right direction, it is not a silver bullet. Other methods that could be used to supplement proof of reserves, such as regular audits and chain analysis, were suggested by Nic.

Catch the full podcast with Alex, Nic, and Matt on episode 39 of On the Brink.