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Updated: April 30, 2024

Betting on bitcoin: Portland startup launches app for 'crypto-curious crowd’

Bitcoin art Photo / Courtesy Luxolo Financial, a Portland-based pioneer in cryptocurrency financial services, has launched a mobile app that aims to simplify the process of investing in bitcoin and other digital currencies.

Betting on bitcoin's continued recovery from the bear market of the past two years, a Portland startup has launched a mobile app that could change how people manage and invest in encrypted digital money, or cryptocurrencies.

The app, from Luxolo Financial, comes six years after the company was founded as a boutique, in-person cryptocurrency exchange, with all transactions handled by its employees.

Bitcoin's price surpassed $70,000 for the first time in early April, after being mired below $20,000 in the latter half of 2022. (In mid-morning trading Tuesday, it's at $60,792.) Bitcoin's trading performance has largely echoed the ups and downs of the U.S. stock market as the Federal Reserve raised interest rates and then put them on hold.

Michael Seymour, Luxolo Financial's director of sales and marketing, told Mainebiz, “As bitcoin has officially entered a bull market cycle that typically occurs every three or so years, we're now experiencing demand from many new customers, both individual and corporate, who are looking to bolster their investment portfolio with bitcoin.

App screen shot
Image / Provided
The Luxolo Financial app looks like this.

“Although this model worked well enough, we wanted to expand our market reach and transaction capacity beyond southern Maine, so we built our new platform/web app to be available nationwide, 24/7. This is our first app and a major upgrade to our previous service line.”

The app, he said, is meant for the "crypto-curious crowd."

Founder’s real estate roots 

Luxolo Financial is led by Daren Hebold, the company’s founder and CEO, who has a background in real estate and launched Luxolo as a way to promote and provide access to bitcoin, a digital currency created and exchanged independently of banks or governments.

Still active in real estate, Hebold operates Lux Residential, a real estate asset management and brokerage firm. At Luxolo Financial, he leads a team of five employees.

“While there isn’t much cryptocurrency use in real estate yet, our firm is tracking several opportunities and stands poised to integrate the two worlds at the right moment,” Seymour said.

Business model 

While use of the new app is free, Luxolo charges a 3.75% transaction fee to convert dollars to crypto and vice versa. Users also get “concierge-style support,” as well as a free cold-storage vault wallet on which to store digital assets.

Photo / Provided
Michael Seymour

“This is in the form of a physical metal card that serves as the bearer instrument that holds their bitcoin and crypto assets,” Seymour explained. “No matter what happens out there in the world, so long as the customer keeps this card in a safe place, their funds will be safe.”

The company also provides technical support, but not financial advice.

Asked about hiring plans in 2024, Seymour said the company anticipates hiring two customer support representatives in coming months.

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