Name of product: Lawnmower
What it is: Bitcoin's take on the popular investment app Acorns, Lawnmower rounds traditional bank card purchases up to the nearest dollar and invests the change in bitcoin.
Made by: Lawnmower.io
Who's behind it: Three University of Florida classmates Pieter Gorsira, Patrick Archambeau and Alex Sunnarborg and strategic backers Boost VC.
Date launched: 9th April
Basic summary: Lawnmower provides a painless way for users to start saving bitcoin in incremental amounts.
CoinDesk rating: 3.5/5
The basics: Available as an iOS app and currently in Android beta, Lawnmower creates a Coinbase wallet for users, connecting the address to a bank account or credit card. Lawnmower monitors the user's traditional purchases, rounding transactions to the nearest dollar, or in the case of a $3.00 transaction, the next dollar, converting this "change" to bitcoin.
Using the service
To install the service, iOS users download the app to their preferred device. From there, sign-up is broken down into a three-step process.
The app is currently limited to users of one of five traditional banking partners, all of whose services can be accessed via financial API platform Plaid. Available banks currently include Bank of America, Chase, Citibank, Wells Fargo and US Bank.
Once selected, users must correctly answer security passwords used in conjunction with their account. Unlike when accessing online banking, users must correctly answer all questions before moving forward. Lawnmower then displays a screen indicating that it has yet to detect any transaction activity, one that is eventually populated with a history of its purchases.
The app requires a minimum of $4 be collected in clippings from purchases before it purchases bitcoin on behalf of the user.
- Easy signup process for Coinbase users
- Straightforward user interface shows bitcoin accrued, the dollar equivalent and a history of recent purchases at a glance.
- Limited currently to USD investors
- Requires Coinbase account
- Stats page yet to be developed
- Users currently limited to one investment option.
As for security, Lawmower outsources most of the responsibility to its related third-party providers. Banking transaction data is stored outside the app by API provider Plaid, while users can only sell or send bitcoin through their Coinbase accounts.
Given the overly ambitious aims of many companies in the space, Lawnmower should be lauded for its success at delivering on a simplistic vision. Further, it provides what is most likely the easiest way to purchase bitcoins, requiring only that users to opt in to a program and go about their normal business.
As for how it ultimately delivers on its value proposition to investors, however, that depends on the point of view of the user. Alternative apps, like Acorns for example, offer a wide range of investment options, from government bonds to real estate stocks, diversity that isn't yet available in the Lawnmower app.
Lawnmower's ultimate usefulness as an investment tool may be dependent on the wider success of cryptocurrency as an asset class, though whether bitcoin will be enough to attract a large target market of investors looking to grow their savings, and by extension, Lawnmower as a company, remains to be seen.
Disclaimer: This article represents the experience and opinion of the reviewer. Please do your own extensive research before considering investing any funds.
Images via Pete Rizzo for CoinDesk.