Daren, founder of LUXOLO Financial, takes you on an enlightening journey through the world of Bitcoin and cryptocurrency. From his experience as a pioneer in the industry to his unique perspective on the importance of financial privacy and education, Daren sheds light on the many facets of this innovative technology. Listen in as he shares his story, his advice, and his passion for what the future of Bitcoin may bring.
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[0:00:00] Daren: Look, you can pay all your bills with one click. You can bleep out your groceries, pay your rent. You can get paid faster from your employer. Look how awesome this is, guys. What could possibly go wrong?
[0:00:10] Daren: I'm Marie Dougham and this is Wholesome Crypto. Here I speak with crypto experts, influencers, and entrepreneurs to find out what personally led them to the path of cryptocurrency. Welcome, Darren, to the Wholesome Crypto podcast. Thank you so much for joining me today.
[0:00:26] Daren: Hey, thanks Rudy, and good seeing you again after catching you in Boston there the other week.
[0:00:31] Daren: Yeah, it was nice meeting you at the Boston Blockchain Week. And yeah, I know that you're the founder of Solo Financial, pretty much providing concierge services to anyone who wants to walk in and buy bitcoin over the counter or get stuck with a wallet, get educated, and also purchase crypto in person. Kind of a traditional way that we don't do so much in the digital world. So thank you for working and building and adopting people into the industry.
[0:00:58] Daren: Yeah, you bet. That's the model is what you said it's as human powered. The bitcoin exchange is just all too many online exchanges where a person would have to have the wherewithal to know that they want bitcoins and know how to find a reputable site, know how to onboard themselves, set up wallets, buy crypto, secure, manage, and store it all on their own. And that's a lot to ask even for an intelligent person. We take away all those hurdles by helping people do it with our in person desk advisor.
[0:01:28] Daren: It's definitely needed. It's hard for me even to keep up with what's going on digitally to keep any crypto safe. So thank you for that. But before we dive deep into what you're doing now and what you're building now, I would love to learn a little bit about what Darren was doing before every hearing about bitcoin have an.
[0:01:44] Daren: Engineering background so that I didn't party enough in college. I just kind of studied 4 hours a night. It teaches you a lot of discipline. It teaches you even a little bit of computer programming, team problem solving and critical thinking. It taught me a lot. And I really only stuck with engineering for a couple of years though, because it was socially debilitating to be an engineer. So I switched to a sales role almost two years later after college and then in real estate sales for many years and investing. And then it wasn't until 2013 that my friend here in Portland, Maine said, hey, look at what I got going. And I go to his apartment and he's got this laptop with something called a butterfly mining rig. Plugged in a USB cord to his laptop and the thing is piping hot and it's blowing off heat and it's doing something and I'm like, what the hell? What is this, man? And he's like a month bitcoins. And I'm like, Why? Why would you do that? And you're going to burn out your laptop.
[0:02:55] Daren: And he shows me this USB stick and he's like, see, that's the wallet on the USB stick. And I mine the bitcoins and it goes on to the USB stick and it's worth money. And I was like, are you making any money? He's like, well, a little bit. And so I was actually curious, but I just kind of shrugged it off and forgot about it for three years.
[0:03:15] Daren: But were you always into tech before all this?
[0:03:19] Daren: Yeah, I love tech. I like Nicola Tesla. I like modern technology. I like Vin Tech. Yeah, I was interested anyway.
[0:03:27] Daren: When you first hear about Bitcoin, it just doesn't click immediately. Some people clicked immediately for me. Didn't click immediately. I just first loved it because it was new and it was technology. So I'm like, oh, great. New technology. Great. I'm going to dive into it. But very fortunate for your friend, hopefully still making off well with crypto or bitcoin.
[0:03:45] Daren: He mined that story, that USB stick that he had. I think he mined like one bitcoin on it at the time, but he lost it. He lost the sticks anyhow. Yeah, that's the least of the sad stories. I got some other much more sadder stories. Stuff from other friends.
[0:04:05] Daren: Yeah, it's tough. So this friend was your first intro to Bitcoin 2013.
[0:04:11] Daren: I just blew it off. And then in 2016, I was starting to see some really anomalistic stuff going on in the global economic markets. And I was like, man, I was like, screw this. And I went on Coinbase, and I got started in 2016 with bitcoins.
[0:04:30] Daren: Did you have an investor trader mindset before this? Were you dabbling a mega stock market and then this was make money faster, or not really.
[0:04:39] Daren: I hadn't been managing my own stocks or anything. It was more of a long term play. I was like, all right, I'm going to go in the biggest way that I could at that time, which was not very much, but we'll dive into that a little bit here.
[0:04:50] Daren: Yeah, and that makes sense because it's like, fun. You put a couple of bucks in and see what happens. Put the money in that you can't afford to lose. So as you're starting to learn and dabble into crypto and Bitcoin, it was still purely just speculative financial tool for you. Was the technology at all really interesting? You like, I guess in 2016, it's kind of when the ICO craze was happening too, with the theorem, it was starting to develop. How was that whole entire industry just shaping around for you?
[0:05:18] Daren: Once I actually started studying it in 16, I was like, oh, wow, okay. This money is outside of the legacy financial system. Okay? There's a big difference there. Nobody can throttle you, censor you, resist you. Wow. It's an open market money, so the market is deciding what it's worth in real time. Wow, that's a game changer. Nobody's in charge, everybody can use it. I just started going down the rabbit hole and you just keep having revelation after revelation. That's how it goes. There was no turning back, and I really started to rethink, what can I.
[0:05:50] Daren: Do with this at this point? Were you working anywhere? Were you an entrepreneur, building your own business?
[0:05:56] Daren: I was still in real estate sales, commercial real estate, and making some bucks there. But this actually caught my attention and what later happened, moving into as you know, the timing was pretty good in 2016, moving into 2017, that started to completely open my mind into really forming a business around this stuff, and eventually I did. But there's more to the story there.
[0:06:22] Daren: Yeah, and I want to get into that. As you were seeing cryptocurrencies and bitcoin going up, you're like, okay, there's an industry shaping and I need to get involved into it somehow. And there's plenty of different roads to take. And it's funny that you chose a road that's brick and mortar for this industry. Why necessarily that path? What kind of gave you the urge to start OTC bitcoin trading?
[0:06:43] Daren: So that aspect of it was really driven by almost a demographic of where I live up here in Maine. Like, we're one of the oldest states in the nation, so I just know from being in this market in real estate, like, there's an older population, they're not technologically savvy. There is a lot of wealth concentration, if you can believe it. It seems like it's just a bunch of poor old people, but not the case at all. In fact, there's quite a bit of wealth concentration in this state. When I was speaking about bitcoin with friends, family, clients of our parents generation, they were all interested, but I could just tell that they're going to be clueless when it comes to finding their own way to make an investment and properly handling it. And so I said, all right, I think I can charge a modest fee. I call it almost like an information arbitrage fee. I charge 5% over spot price at our exchange, and for that, the customer gets an enormous education and sort of direction on how to secure, manage and invest their crypto. And I spotted that early. I said, yeah, this population would definitely benefit from that, and not just in Maine, really, anybody in that generation who happens to find us and call in is going to derive value from that. That's proven to be the case. There is a market there for that.
[0:08:03] Daren: And bitcoin, especially the rule, is not your key, is not your crypto. So having someone manage and work with you on purchasing bitcoin, it's kind of what reassurances and advice do you give your clients to make them feel secure and safe with their holdings and make them feel like it is theirs, or hopefully it is still theirs.
[0:08:25] Daren: One of the things we do is we set people up with wallets. And so just depending on their background and their intentions and whether it's a long term hold or whether they're going to do something else with their crypto or invest it, we kind of decide at the consult time. But what we often do is set them up with like a multi signature wallet where they take the majority of the keys, two of them, and we retain one of them as like a cosigner or a collaborative custody member. So we are not a custodian in that arrangement. It's a very important distinction. We are definitely not ever taking custody. In fact, that's our whole point is we're advocating for self custody. We have found that this collaborative custody is like a perfect balance. At the end of the day, they have the majority of the keys and they can move the money at will. But if they need our help, we have viewing and third key privileges to their wallet so we can make subsequent deposits, we can help them recover a key if they lose one. There's a lot of synergy to the collaborative custody model. Yeah, there are other times when people say, look, this is a small amount, I don't need to make a big hoop a lot about this. And we just direct them to download any number of free wallets on the app store and put in several hundred bucks worth. It fine. But in larger amounts, we do suggest, like, this collaborative custody environment.
[0:09:52] Daren: That's important because has there ever been someone that might have lost their key and you're just like, oh, thank goodness that I have this collaborative custody with you and I just saved you all your money?
[0:10:02] Daren: Unfortunately, we've had one client pass away and indeed the heirs were able to locate the backup key card that we had sent the client home with whatever, year and a half, two years ago. And with our help, yes, they recovered the funds just fine. So that was awesome. We've had others just lose their login credentials, so we've had to also invoke the backup key card. In that regard, it was the easiest way to just sweep funds to a new wallet and start a new it works and it's something we're going to refine and have a more formal product offering. It's just been kind of an informal approach we've taken, but now it's really something that we want to perfect and just have like a hosted wallet service offering.
[0:10:46] Daren: Yeah, there's a lot to this industry, too, especially since it's relatively new. Regulations aren't very clear what was a difficult challenge you had to overcome in order to actually start this operation.
[0:10:57] Daren: So we launched January 2018, and at the time it was not an insane regulatory environment. It was like fairly straightforward. It was money transmitter licenses based on your state. Then obviously, Finsen, everybody's at the money service business has a register. Finsen and have an AML program. Those are the two major hurdles to launch and those were surmountable. But moving forward here, fast forward four and a half years, we are entering what I call sort of an untenable regulatory environment and we can definitely unpack that some more. I would like to because I think people really need to understand that it's totally out of control what's coming down the pipe as far as regulators feel they have for jurisdiction. Every three letter and four letter agency is raising their hand and saying oh no, we have jurisdiction over you. You got to do this, this and that times four or five agencies. And if you were to attempt to comply with all that you should just close your business immediately because a it violates every ethos of cryptocurrency which is freedom enabling technology, having no resistance and censorship and centralized control of the money. The list goes on and on. Many of your listeners know the tenets of crypto and what regulators want to do is nullify all of those benefits. At any rate, that's what it's come to today. So what we've done at my firm is just take a very conservative approach.
[0:12:36] Daren: We just deal with layer one bitcoin sales and so we're not doing crazy things like crypto custody, crypto, trading on clients behalf, leverage gambling, just anything that's going to trigger all manner of different regulators coming out of the woodwork. The SEC, they think everything is security. We're being cognizant of basically everything that they're tagging of security including a dog barking, you drinking a soda. These are all securities. So we stay away from all these types of things that we know they are calling security. So we're just taking a conservative approach for now so that we don't get unduly burdened with just insane amounts of regulations which I cringe when I see a lot of our competitors introducing new service lines that are I think they're unwittingly exposing themselves to massive regulatory burdens. I don't even think they have fully realized what they're signing up for.
[0:13:36] Daren: Yeah, that's tough. When you founded the company it was by yourself or did you have a partner with you?
[0:13:42] Daren: I had a silent partner but I was tasked with really doing all the work. So it was, it was kind of a heavy lift man. And I'll touch upon how I capitalize the company later on but yeah, it was a heavy lift doing it but I was able to continue doing real estate sales and continue earning income as I was launching Lux Solo. This is kind of an important point for any would be founders that might be listening. I never had this need to just extract income out of the company in the first early one or two years. That was very important. Not need to derive income from it because you can't. I mean every dollar of profit you make you got to just leave in the company and reinvest that was very important to not have to draw that out and deplete the company in the first year.
[0:14:30] Daren: It's really tough because, especially for an entrepreneur who's just on your business, you focus on that. You don't have any other side gigs or jobs or any other stream income. It's really hard to launch something and have it become successful.
[0:14:42] Daren: And honestly, if I knew how hard it was going to be looking back at both launching luxolo while simultaneously preserving my phase out career, I wouldn't have done it if I knew how bad it was going to be. It was very tough, and it's just a major drain on your mojo to work that hard and not pull a paycheck from the new entity. I can see why others take the approach of, well, let's develop a term sheet and go out to venture capitalists and take on a million or $2 and staff up so that the founder doesn't have to kind of kill themselves with the workload.
[0:15:19] Daren: I'm understanding that hopefully you're paying yourself now.
[0:15:23] Daren: Partner burned has come into the company as of about 18 months ago, and he is an operating partner with me. So together we run the company, we pay ourselves, and we own 100% of the company. So that is one of the benefits of not doing the venture backed model. You don't have to give up control of the company and in the worst cases, sort of become an employee of your own company if you give up too much control. Right?
[0:15:51] Daren: Yeah. It's pretty funny. Right. You're an entrepreneur because you don't want to work for a company, but then you can just easily set yourself up into a company and just end up in the same boat.
[0:16:00] Daren: Yeah. A lot of founders unwittingly. They sign the term sheets that are floated, and a lot of them contain clauses that if they don't meet certain benchmarks of dilution and the transfer of control and to a chairman of the board, and you can easily get kind of back seated at your own company. So I didn't want to do any of that. What's been really important is not having to answer to anybody. This industry, man, it twists and turns by the day, and you think your cheese is here and it gets moved next week and you got to go change course to get the cheese again. To have to explain these movements to a board or to an investor, it would have been exasperating, honestly. Whereas now, on a daily basis, my partner and I can say, hey, that thing we were doing, that's definitely downtrending. Let's kind of pull the plug on that and redirect over this way. And we don't have to explain it or justify it to anybody. We just know it's the right thing to do. So that's very important to be nimble.
[0:16:58] Daren: Exactly. And speaking of the industry, I wanted to know a little bit more about what is your crypto pet peeve.
[0:17:06] Daren: Yeah, I probably get several of them. I'd say my biggest pet peeve is this push for crypto custody. I just cringe when I hear the word custody, because it's really a concept that was born out of wall street in 1940, which at the time was needed. There was just a bunch of investors running around without much. Sophistication and they had cash and they said, I want to buy some forward stock. Here's my cash. The only option was to custody your cash with an investment firm so that they could go buy the stock on your behalf. Right. So it made sense. What was that 80 years ago? Because it was necessary. Now with the advent when satoshi invented bitcoin and wallets, it completely invalidated and made unnecessary that entire model. That the whole point is self custody. And if you need a little assistance, you can engage in collaborative custody. But I'd say in rare cases, you need to custody your damn bitcoins with a large firm.
[0:18:12] Daren: Now you have to request a withdrawal from XYZ exchange and they can often grant your request. But in the case of celsius or some of these others man request denied. You can't have your bitcoins because actually they weren't on a wallet. They were on a ledger that was like tantamount to just an internal excel spreadsheet there at the company. And god knows where they put your actual bitcoins that you posted with them a year ago. Right. Those are gone. These are the things that happen with custodians, even if regulated, is completely inappropriate to custody. Bitcoins, if you're just simply a long term holder, if that's your goal, there's no need for it. The only time you would want to custody them is if you're posting them for collateral for like a legitimate crypto loan or if you're needing to trade your bitcoin. So during the time that you're trading your cryptos, sure, you need to put them in custody with the exchange, make the trade and yank them back out. Man everybody knows you want to limit your exposure to custodial. That's my pet peeve. I strongly disagree. But every day in the headlines we see some new firm is offering crypto custody.
[0:19:28] Daren: I guess it's hot because when you talk about the real big institutional money, all of their vernacular and knowledge base and infrastructure is just queued up to custody. I guess when you talk about large institutions, but then again, you don't have to. I'm pretty sure MicroStrategy who owns what do they own 125,000 bitcoins now? I don't think they use a custodial solution. I think they have them in collaborative custody. Wallets is my belief that makes sense.
[0:19:57] Daren: For them because the company itself invests in it.
[0:20:00] Daren: The CEO is pretty attuned with the ethos of bitcoin and why we want to depend on third party performance, particularly when you have billions at stake.
[0:20:10] Daren: Yeah, it's tough because exchanges, they want to make it as easy as possible for people to onboard and buy bitcoin, feel like they have it or own it and hold it. We're in a weird spot of adoption where we need exchanges, we need coinbase, finance, those we don't need. But in terms of adoption term, we still do need them. It's actually really hard for people to quickly attain bitcoin, ethereum, whatever, cryptocurrency by mining. It's a slow, long process, and you cannot just trust someone off the street like, oh, you got bitcoin, I got cash, let's do the trade outside. You can't just trade like that. Big trust issue. If there was a way to share money from peer to peer anonymously, that'd be great. But that's why you have bitcoin. That's the whole purpose of it, is to do that cash. You can't really do that anymore. Venmo, PayPal, they're all KYC, and we're in a weird spot. We're in a weird spot where we have to get that adoption put our KYC. The long term goal of bitcoin or any cryptocurrency or blockchain is to transition into a fully decentralized and anonymous network where nobody has to know anyone's identity that they don't want to reveal.
[0:21:26] Daren: Yeah, I'm glad you bring up privacy. I totally agree. I mean, we are taught, and in fact, the regulators that regulate, like firms like mine, teach us that financial privacy is bad because it equals suspicious activity. Completely incorrect definition. Financial privacy is simply a choice that should absolutely lie in the consumer's hands. And in fact, I would go a step further. There's lots of authors that have written about this. I mean, one of the cornerstones to a truly free society is financial privacy. The most free societies have the opportunity for financial privacy. The most constrained societies, including communist nations, have zero financial privacy, where your whole life is on a public ledger and you can be throttled and censored and resisted at the press of a button. So I totally agree. We got to move towards that. Yeah, this KYC does need to take place at the exchange. People do get a little lazy, and like you said, if they use finance or gemini or coinbase, it's all too easy to just leave your purchased coins up there because it's like, seemingly safe and convenient. But we beat the drum every day.
[0:22:45] Daren: That's not the best practice. Pull them down to your wallet. That's in your control with your keys. Therefore it's your crypto, and then you know you're in control. It's a long learning curve. It's a totally different paradigm. Teaching all these people that the pitfalls of third party performance, and they don't know until it hits, like celsius or going back to 2013, I believe it was, was that when the cypress bank failed in greece? And on Friday, you know, you had deposits, and on Monday they're like, sorry, no withdrawals allowed. And everybody was, like, completely just astonished that something like that could even happen. Well, in the case of the canadian trucker convoy. If you were a trucker or even a person waving and cheering them on, your bank account was summarily frozen by one of the popular Canadian banks. I mean, they literally served as the in that instance, they served as the judge, jury, and executioner in one swoop. I mean, an egregious violation of so many laws, you all in one fell swoop. But this is the sort of state of affairs that things have come to. Communism has become cool.
[0:23:58] Daren: And so China has got the digital yuan, which is their central bank digital currency. They got other communist nations looking at that and saying, cool, man. All right, we want to control our people to that extent as well. Can we outsource? Can you license that software as a service to us? Give us a digital CBDC of our own so that we can control our people right down to can they take the bus to work that day? Oh, they've been a bad boy disable that today. It's a really important time to have discernment and just people say, oh, well, none of these crazy things you're talking about, Darren, would ever happen in the United States. Come on, come on. This is a free country. I disagree. What we have now is a Congress who has failed to enact any meaningful sort of legislation, statutory law regarding cryptos. And so in lieu of that, you have regulators running around making up their own rules. They are literally drawing up their own opinions, rulings letters. They have all these different names for them.
[0:25:00] Daren: But I find it alarming, and I don't think it's even lawful what they're doing. They're literally writing their own interpretations of the 1940 Custody Act, an 80 year old law, and going around with a mallet whacking people on the head with these opinion letters. And so time out. Is what they're doing even in accordance with statutory law? No, I don't think it is. So we're seeing kind of this regulators gone rogue in the US. Which is dangerous to democracy because you're not able to operate in a game when the rules are being changed constantly, both as a business and a consumer. And it's even more alarming that these regulators are operating what I believe is just regardless of what statutory law grants them the privilege to do.
[0:25:51] Daren: Yeah, and it's funny that you say that. You would never think that happens in America. This whole scenario reminds me of like a Black Mirror episode where everything is like a rating.
[0:25:59] Daren: Yeah, right.
[0:26:00] Daren: But you're right. We're told the money is ours. We have pretty free transition of money. You can exchange money pretty easily through lots of different means without worry that someone's going to take you or someone's going to stop us. I can use Venmo or even Facebook, Pay, or even like there's tons of ways to transact between American citizens. That's not the case in every country. Some countries do have their banking payment exchanges and transfers. But it's not that easy. Some countries are still dependent on cash. We're in a digital age. It's time to get rid of cash, I think, like what? Over 95% of the dollars are digital. They're not even cash anymore.
[0:26:36] Daren: Right.
[0:26:36] Daren: It's time for people to realize things can happen to any country. We're seeing it happen to more and more countries. Communist countries are encouraging digital currencies. It is a perfect way to control your people. Digital currency is having control over minting it yourself, having ownership and what goes on with the smart contract, that's ultimate control. And it can happen with any country. It's probably very incentivizing for countries to do that. Why wouldn't you want to have that?
[0:27:01] Daren: Yeah. And if you don't pay your taxes for your convenience, they'll just garnish it right out of your wages, right? For you, it's just a lot easier that way, isn't it? Have you ever seen the movie Ready Player One? It's that you're inside this game as your primary activity during the day and if you accrue debt in the game, then in real life you have to go to these quote unquote loyalty centers and burn off your debts by being a slave at their headquarters there. I'm laughing to sort of add humor to this dark overtone, but I think this is literally you're going to see that happening in China. That's where it's going to start with the digital Yuan CBDC. They haven't flipped the switch, so it's still a honeypot trap right now. It's still being sold and billed as oh, look, this is just convenient. Look, you can pay all your bills with one click. You can bleep out your groceries, pay your rent, you can get paid faster from your employer. Look how awesome this is, guys. What could possibly go wrong? Well, they haven't flipped the switch yet with any of the nasty social controls. But once the critical mass of users is they will flip that switch and it will become excruciatingly apparent what's possible there.
[0:28:14] Daren: The silly thing is we already have that possibility with the current blockchain and cryptocurrency industry we have now. There's no need to keep adding and reinventing the wheel. Yes, it's good to advance and keep innovating, but there's a reason like money controls everything and the government controls money. They control everything in the sum of it all. It still depends on the people. The people have all to say. If we all agree that we want to use bitcoin or ethereum or whatever, that's money you took power away from the government, it is hard. Most people in the world just want to live their freaking lives and do what they want to go to their work and come home and cook a dinner and just not have to deal with shit from so many different places and entities. There's enough crap to deal with in a day. The last thing you want to do is just. Add more crap. That's why education on this is so important is that this is a time where you can actually take ownership and have less to deal with from people that you don't have to deal with anymore because they own your assets on your money. It's finally yours.
[0:29:13] Daren: I will say that is one silver lining. We're talking about the dark clouds here. But I mean, the one silver lining is that layer one bitcoin transactions and translation to english, that's me having a wallet, sending Rudy's some bitcoin on his wallet. That action right there is sacrosanct like that cannot be messed with by any regulator, government, et cetera. It cannot be throttled censored turned off as long as we can still have access, I should say to zero knowledge wallets we can transact. And so that is awesome. Although it sounds like a very base level, very crude level of functionality, it's what's necessary to have a free economy. And it is possible. And I really want to go down to have you been down to bitcoin beach in el salvador?
[0:30:02] Daren: I have not.
[0:30:03] Daren: No, neither have I, but one of my peer companies has and even did a project down there. And I am dying to see, because if you and your listeners aren't aware, bitcoin beach in El Salvador is a place where every retailer accepts crypto. You can pay your rent, you could pay travel, you can pay accommodations, you can completely live on bitcoin. So think about that. Those people don't care what the BTC USD ratio is, right? It doesn't matter. It doesn't matter. I got a soda and it's 200 satoshi. I got a hotel room and it's 2000 satoshi. Whatever their price is, it's quoted in bitcoin. They don't care what the stupid dollar ratio is that day. That's a whole other discussion. I mean, I don't believe the prices you see on crypto. There's some extremely serious left pocket to right pocket trading going on at all of the major exchanges, and it's dramatically skewing the price. I don't tend to look at that price much.
[0:31:08] Daren: That's a whole other discussion. The other thing I want to mention was, if we can learn what president bukelli is doing in el Salvador and in bitcoin beach specifically, let's replicate that in our own local communities. Wherever you wherever your listeners live, do that indoctrinate who you buy your farm products from, who you buy your kids bicycle from, who you pay rent to. If we can start using bitcoin, that's all that's needed to escape the trap. It's that simple. But it just takes a critical mass, and we are certainly not there yet.
[0:31:40] Daren: Yeah, and that's a great thing to say because it does start locally. If you just go to your barber shop, whatever, just do take crypto. And they'll ask now, or ask questions like, I don't really know how it works sort of conversation. And that's one more person that starts looking into it. Obviously don't be pushy, folks. It is a tough subject to fully understand, but educate and share and learn and it'll grow naturally. That's how it's been going for the past since 2009. So 13 years. It's pretty impressive. And that's the key to just constantly educating with your business. I'm sure people come in, just want to learn more, like what the hell is Bitcoin? And even for like Aetherium such other currencies, are there other currencies available for you?
[0:32:20] Daren: Yeah, we'll sell customers anything, but I will yeah, I guess it's no secret. I would say like 99 and a half percent of our sales orders are for BTC. So the market speaks pretty loud and we're doing many millions of dollars of sales every month. So there's a real critical mass there. Interested in bitcoin. Back to the education. Another thing we'll be rolling out is there is a demand for it. And so, for example, we're going to be designing continuing education credit programs for both attorneys and real estate brokers because everybody has ongoing requirements for continuing ed. For a very modest fee, you can take probably what will be an online course with our firm and earn yourself three credit hours of continuing ed for taking a blockchain and bitcoin course from us. And that seems to be a real need. We arrived at that just here in this local Portland, Maine. We found ourselves doing just presentations at local law firms, accounting firms, real estate brokerages who just said, hey, can you come in and do a lunch and learn and just give us a clue, just get us started, wet our appetite. And we constantly do those, I call them dog and pony shows. We're doing a circuit of those and it got us thinking like, wow, there is a real curiosity and a hunger for this. Let's turn it into something that people can actually purchase as legitimate education.
[0:33:43] Daren: Yeah, it's the key. Start with education and then that's all you got to keep doing to keep educating people.
[0:33:48] Daren: Yeah, and one other thing we might do. I'm looking at my office space here. We're on kind of the main road coming in here in Portland, Maine. And I think we're going to start like the main blockchain learning center, something named similar to that, where the doors open to the public. There's a coffee machine, there's all these wallets, there's books, there's demonstrations, there's videos, there's NFTs, all this stuff where people can just walk in. Maybe we'll get school field trips where kids can come in for a 25 minutes presentation and play with some bitcoins on our little sample iPads over here. And we have these little ballet wallets which are these metal cards that you can store your Bitcoins on, where it's a bearer instrument and it's a little more drives at home. Anyway, we have all these ways that people can learn and the idea is to just blow the COVID off it and just have it open to everybody. Just walk in and check it out. I know we really enjoy this stuff. We're selling freedom. That's really what it is. There's a certain type of customer profile that comes in here and they're honest to goodness people. They've done well in life with their businesses and their investments, and they see what's coming. They see this specter of communism, like, sweeping the world, and they want to hedge against it.
[0:35:10] Daren: And so we are selling them freedom one bitcoin at a time.
[0:35:14] Daren: It's really important to feel ownership over anything, even more than just money, but even just your privacy, your health records. I think especially these web two companies, these large conglomerates like Google, Apple, Facebook, Meadow, whatever, Amazon, it's definitely taught us a lesson that our data is not ours, and you are always paying with as much data as possible. TikTok that's a great example too. All the teens in the world are on this, and from a young age, my face even now going on YouTube has just taken our faces and it's just weird. It's weird to think that, yeah, without.
[0:35:49] Daren: Your consent, I'll add to sort of the dire circumstance that you started to paint. I mean, all of the data that gets aggregated on these platforms we use. Their whole business model is to maximally exploit you as much as possible without your consent before they get caught by any updated legislation or regulations. Is that a sustainable business model? To sort of reap people of their data as much as possible, as many times as possible? I don't think it is. And I think that's why we're seeing a big tech slide right now. Like, if you look at the top ten, whatever, nasdaq tech companies, they've slid a lot and for good reason. These are unsustainable practices. And I think smart money knows that the jigs coming to an end. You can't just continue like this for much longer. People are wise to the jig. Yeah.
[0:36:43] Daren: For me, it just can't come soon enough to have the full adoption of cryptocurrencies. I'm doing my best to keep it going.
[0:36:50] Daren: I'm with you. We have to build an ecosystem, right? Like, for example, we're not ready to pull the plug on the legacy financial system yet because they've perfected all these things like mortgages for homes, auto loans, lines of credit, debit cards. They've had so many decades to sort of I'll say the word perfect loosely, but they've made it so easy and seamless for consumers that it's hard to let go of those systems, even though they do have extraordinary hidden costs and risks that we aren't properly considering. I envision banks going away because they don't add any more value anymore. I envision a totally decentralized system of many cryptos that are in use for different use cases. And I envision, like, financial service companies basically taking the place of banks where firms like mine can walk in here and get a mortgage and auto loan, a line of credit against your crypto. You can do many of the functions you've become accustomed to doing with a local or national bank, but through a fin surf. I think that's my sniff on which way it's going. I don't know if you have thought about this, but I think about this a lot from what I am directly seeing in both my peers and with my customers. That's the direction we're moving.
[0:38:06] Daren: Yeah, it's a good point because I wanted to learn more about also any concerns that you have in the industry that are coming up.
[0:38:13] Daren: I would just summarize by saying beware of just like rogue regulation. I think we all need to just decide do we stand for what crypto stands for and what the ethos of Satoshi's white Paper calls for, which is financial freedom, or do we genuflect on one knee and just big regulators to tell us what to do? Which that sounds meek and pathetic, but that's frankly what most people in my industry are doing at the moment, which in my mind just close your doors because that violates every senate of what this movement is all about. You got to work within the confines of what's legal and permissible. It just, it's crossed the line, I would say the last twelve months. It's crossed the line where it's like not clear that what's being asked of us is actually even legitimate.
[0:39:03] Daren: Yeah, it's tough because we look to regulations to protect us. That's like what they were meant to do is to protect the common person from bad actors or things that they FDIC. Insurance is great. Like if my bank account gets hacked somehow and I lose money, like great, the bank, the government can actually fund me back what I've lost. Those things are great in crypto. If you lose your money, you lost your money, it's never come back. But it's also the sense of ownership. That's what you get for owning something. If you drop your phone on the floor and it cracks, that's your fault. But if someone steals your phone, you're not going to get that back either. We're just kind of tough and it's not your fault necessarily.
[0:39:43] Daren: I kind of like natural consequences, like you were just describing. I'm a parent. I don't know if you are, but they say you got to let your kids experience natural consequences. Oh, you're a fussy eater and you're not going to eat dinner, go to bed hungry. See how many times that works for you? You dropped your cell phone in the puddle because you're being careless. You don't get a new one. Too bad. So natural consequences are probably part of growing up. And so maybe we adults need to grow up a tiny bit, too, and not rely on the FDIC, for example, which, by the way, they have 99 years to pay you back if the bank loses your funds and they're FDIC insured, which makes you think that it's very protected. They have up to 99 years to make you whole. That's a little known fact.
[0:40:32] Daren: But I don't know that a lot.
[0:40:34] Daren: Of the guardrails that you think are in place that are just so ironclad and are going to be such a high hurdle for the crypto industry to meet are not that important or practical.
[0:40:43] Daren: Learning the natural causes method is not the same as everyone else. It's a different method of learning as we all do. We all hope to teach each other the best and help each other grow as a community. So it's like, why not? Decentralization so much in strong community is everyone to win. That's like what a lot of cryptocurrency does is it provides some type of game theory where it incentivizes all actors in the industry to do good, because any good can ultimately benefit you, since humans are typically looking out for themselves. But if you can look out for yourself at the same time help others, that's a win win.
[0:41:17] Daren: Yeah, I like where you're going with that. I would almost kind of transition this discussion to, like, this is kind of a spiritual movement. And I don't mean anything religiously denominated. I just mean, like, on a higher level. This is us humans kind of awakening to our own sovereignty and our own manifestation of our own ideas and creations. And we don't need keepers. We don't need playground proctors telling us every movement that we ought to make. We're past that. Maybe we needed that in 1940, and I think we were a less evolved species at that time. I think we're different people these days.
[0:41:57] Daren: Yeah. And then the Internet makes it easier, but also makes it a lot harder with misinformation online to be easier, but also more chaotic at the same time. But that's what happens when you grow and you evolve. It's not supposed to be smooth.
[0:42:08] Daren: So there's a lot of disinformation. I think it's like an information world war right now, and it's testing everybody's discernment. And that keeps coming up for me. Like, I have to discern what's right, what's not right, what's disinformation.
[0:42:26] Daren: Yeah. I want to know. You're running your business. You're in the crypto, old 24/7, hard to just keep your head straight sometimes, and you have a family. What does Darren do outside of crypto, outside of just, like, running his business? How do you keep your own mental health?
[0:42:43] Daren: I incorporate traveling with this profession. So going to conferences, going to meet up out of state, just traveling a lot is an important thing for me. Rudy and then just staying fit, cycling, yoga, sailing, just getting out in nature and grounding yourself, getting away from 5G in urban centers and doing the digital detox in nature is a super important thing for me, actually. A guru told me, actually putting your bare feet in soil is a very important thing for humans to do. So to ground yourself. So that's a lot of the things I do in my spare time just kind of transitioning to what is the spiritual meaning of what I'm doing, both personally and professionally. Spend a lot of time kind of honing that.
[0:43:27] Daren: That's amazing. Me and my fiance started just leaving our phones at home, going for walks together. Just leave it at home or go out to dinner, just leave your home. Don't look at it. Even if you just have in your pocket, you don't look at it versus leaving it at home. It's a different feeling. Not having it on you is a different mental clarity.
[0:43:47] Daren: It's almost like it casts a spell on you and it's just this. Even the best of us, it's addictive to look at that little screen.
[0:43:57] Daren: One of my last questions, like, to ask everyone is, what is your favorite wholesome crypto moment? Something in the crypto industry that you're happy to see, you're happy to be part of, made you feel good.
[0:44:08] Daren: That's easy. I'll try to make it real quick, but this harkens. Back to our earlier chat. So I bought ten bitcoins in 2016, and everybody can look up the price. They were pretty cheap back then, and by the time they ran up in value significantly by Christmas 2017, I said, wow, that's a good balance. I got a decision. I can either hoddle these and probably be in a pretty darn good position for the rest of my life in the coming years, or I can start a business and spread bitcoins to many, many other people. And it didn't take me long. I obviously invested all of that into starting my business. Well, since then, we've grown to have thousands of customers and many millions of dollars in sales, and there's no looking back. Man, I'm so glad.
[0:44:57] Daren: No regrets. Amazing. I'm so happy for you, because that's a big risk. I don't know if I would have done that if I had that.
[0:45:03] Daren: It was a huge risk. It was jumping off a cliff and hoping you had a hang glider on your back versus free fall.
[0:45:10] Daren: You're fixing it while you're flying. That's the thing, right? Thank you, Darren, so much for joining me on this show. And thank you so much for educating and teaching people about bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. It's needed. I'm happy or successful, I hope the most success for you. And yeah. Thank you again.
[0:45:29] Daren: Thank you, Rudy. Great chatting with you today. All right, have a great evening.