By Amelia Isaacs on Monday 16 May 2022
After privately raising €1.2m, the Swiss fintech has recently turned to crowdfunding by launching its next raise on Crowdcube.
Continuing the trend of European fintechs looking towards crowdfunding when it comes to investment, “Europe’s easiest bitcoin app” has reached almost €1m on Crowdcube in the site’s first raise for a regulated bitcoin startup.
After a private raise of €1.2m, with backers including returning N26 investor Redalpine for a second time, the co-founders of the Swiss fintech, Julian Liniger and Adem Bilican, turned to the crowdfunding platform.
Relai’s 29-year-old CEO Liniger spoke to AltFi about the company’s vision to get a bit of bitcoin into everybody’s pocket, its community-centric nature and the vision to set up a card that allows users to earn interest and cashback in bitcoin.
“Bitcoin itself is very decentralised and community-centric. So are we as a startup,” he said.
“So it's always a dream of ours to enable as many people as possible to invest and become shareholders in our startup.”
Though there are tens of thousands of cryptocurrencies available, Relai only uses bitcoin.
“We believe that bitcoin is the best savings technology that has ever been invented,” Liniger said.
“It’s the digital gold, it’s where millennials and Gen Zs will store their money in the future.”
With more than 100,000 app downloads and 24,000 active users, 60 per cent of Relai customers have a recurring savings account that automatically purchases bitcoin.
Other cryptocurrencies designed for trading, rather than investing, Liniger said, are “high volatility, high risk and very speculative”.
“A lot of them go to the moon, but a lot of them, say nine out of 10, are also dying and going to zero,” he said.
That’s why the company won’t be looking to other cryptocurrencies in the near future, but do have plans to expand the current offerings around bitcoin, the aim being that it becomes incorporated into a daily part of people’s lives.
In an effort to get more people interested in saving with bitcoin, the company have plans to introduce a payment card as soon as this year.
Though it is not completely clear whether this will be a debit or credit card, Relai has been in discussions with both Visa and Mastercard to bring a card to the market that will allow people to make payments in fiat cash and then earn cashback in bitcoin.
“This would really complete the vision of integrating bitcoin savings into people’s everyday lives,” he said.
“Because without doing anything, you can earn some bitcoin and build wealth in bitcoin.”
“We are really trying to democratise this and give everyone access from just 10 bucks,” Liniger continued.
“You can set up a savings account for €10 a month and you don’t need to have any knowhow. If you can Whatsapp or Facebook, you can use Relai. All you need is a smartphone”
In a similar effort to democratise bitcoin, the startup is allowing users to invest as little as €10 for common shares in the business.
So far there have been more than 700 investors on Crowdcube, including smaller angel investors that missed out on the private raise.
In addition to introducing a payments card, Relai will also use the money to expand to new markets.
It currently has users in 40 countries, but only across Europe, with most of them in Germany, Switzerland and Austria, operating in euros and Swiss francs.
There are plans to expand to the UK, as well as other continents and currencies, next year, as Relai seeks to expand its community-driven platform.
Liniger said the company is not sure yet whether public fundraising will be incorporated into its strategy again, but given how integral Relai’s community is to its operations, it seems likely this will be based on user feedback.
Perhaps there will be a clearer answer when the crowdfund closes at the end of the week.