What Is Relai?
Relai stands as a versatile Bitcoin only exchange. It seamlessly blends elements of peer-to-peer and centralized exchanges, granting users access to genuine market prices while retaining the freedom to trade BTC without the need for extensive identification procedures.
Headquartered in Switzerland, Relai, while presently inaccessible to certain regions like the United States, extends its services to most European Union nations. It has several advantages that set it apart from its competitors. Users can engage in no-KYC trading for amounts up to 950 EUR daily and 100,000 EUR annually.
Categorized as a "soft-KYC" BTC exchange app, Relai doesn't mandate ID verification. Nonetheless, it doesn't fall into the category of entirely "non-KYC" platforms either. This is primarily because the purchasing process lacks the same level of privacy found in some peer-to-peer exchanges. Notably, your financial institution, and consequently, potentially governmental authorities, are aware when your fiat currency flows into Relai for BTC purchases.
Relai particularly appeals to Bitcoin enthusiasts looking to accumulate or engage in Dollar-Cost Averaging (DCA) over the long term. The platform's low fees make it an ideal choice for those who prefer depositing fiat and subsequently purchasing Bitcoin. While alternatives like Apple Pay or credit/debit cards offer convenience, they come with higher associated fees.
|🏙️ Location||Zurich, Switzerland|
|📅 Year Founded||2020|
|💰 Primary Token||Bitcoin (BTC)|
|📈 Listed Crypto||Bitcoin only|
|💱 Trading Pairs||BTC/EUR, BTC/CHF|
|💵 Supported FIAT||EUR, CHF|
|🌍 Supported Countries||Europe, UK, Switzerland|
|💰 Minimum Deposit||10 CHF/EUR|
|💸 Deposit Fees||No deposit fees for bank transfer, 3% for Apple Pay / Credit Card BTC Purchase|
|💰 Daily Buying Limit||Varies based on verification level|
|💱 Trading Fees||Base fee for buying starts at 2.5%, for selling at 2.0% (both can be lowered)|
|💸 Withdrawal Fees||Network fees for selling, N/A for buying|
|📱 Mobile App||Available for iOS and Android|
|💬 Customer Support||24/7 customer support available through live chat, email|
How Relai Works
Relai works on a quite simple model, driven by several key factors. Firstly, it exclusively functions within the iOS and Android app ecosystems, without desktop, macOS, or web-based counterparts. This deliberate choice allows the development team to focus their efforts on these two apps, resulting in faster and more efficient updates.
However, it's worth noting that this simplicity may potentially limit its adoption, as a universal web app (or better: PWA, Progressive Web App) could serve as a safeguard against potential future censorship from app stores, as exemplified by recent events involving the Nostr client Damus on the App Store.
Remarkably, Relai refrains from requesting any personal information, not even an email address. How does Relai accomplish this feat? They've ingeniously tied the funds in a self-custodial way, using a 12-word mnemonic phrase, reminiscent of how devices like Trezor, Ledger, or the Nostr protocol work.
Users simply input their seed phrase to access their funds. While an alternative approach could involve sending funds directly to a self-custodial hardware wallet, opting to accumulate holdings on Relai before UTXO consolidation presents a reasonable strategy.
This way, users can stack their Bitcoin holdings first on Relai and, when the stack reaches a substantial size, consider the benefits of UTXO consolidation.
How To Set Up An Account on Relai
Setting up an account is easy, you just need to have one of the latest generations of iPhone or Android. It actually also works for MacOS, but you must have on the latest Apple Silicon in order to download Relai from the Mac App Store.
- First of all, download the app with our link and use the invite code BLOCKDYOR in order to get a 0.5% discount on the fees.
After having downloaded the app on your iPhone, Android or Mac with Apple Silicon, you will find the Relai application in the apps list.
- Here comes the first interesting thing of Relai, the seamless registration without any information! Something we already seen with Sideshift, IVPN or other apps that cares about privacy. Just create your wallet to get started with a new identity.
- Relai is available not just in Switzerland but also many regions of Europe, so the app is being localized in several languages, choose yours.
- Relai support two types of currencies: EUR (1) and CHF (2). Choose accordingly.
- The invite code is the code that will get you a discount on Relai fees. Click on "Add it now"!
- Type BLOCKDYOR in the "Add an invite code" text field.
- Accept the terms of service and click on "Continue".
- Your Relai account will be created in a few seconds.
- Tap on "Start" to view the dashboard and start using Relai.
How to buy/sell Bitcoin with Relai
The core functions of the app revolve around buying and selling, making them the fundamental features. To buy Bitcoin, you'll need either a bank account, a credit/debit card, or even the convenience of Apple Pay. Conversely, to execute a sale, you must have Bitcoin (BTC) stored in Relai.
In this brief guide, we will walk you through the process of buying and also provide an overview of the various methods available, including the quick and straightforward buy option, as well as the Dollar-Cost Averaging (DCA) weekly and monthly approaches.
Before diving into the details, let's take a moment to explore Relai's primary dashboard. It has an user-friendly design with prominent, easy-to-understand buttons, ensuring a hassle-free experience.
At the forefront, you'll notice the customer service button, accessible with just a single tap. Additionally, there's a conspicuous blue quick "Buy" button positioned prominently in the center.
If you tap on the "+" symbol, it reveals a host of additional functionalities. This button, when tapped, unveils a range of features including Buy (1), Sell (2), Send (3), Receive (4), and even the ability to invite your friends to join the app (5).
- If you click on buy you will be redirected to the "Select your amount". We type €100 for this test. Type the amount you want and tap on "Next" to go forward.
- Next, you'll need to select the type of your Buy transaction. Relai has a compelling option: one free Bitcoin purchase per month, with absolutely zero fees for a single order of up to 100 CHF/EUR. For the purpose of this experiment, we'll opt for this cost-effective choice.
- Alternatively, you have the option to choose the DCA solution, often referred to as "auto-invest," to automate your investment strategy: buy some every week or month. It's worth noting that while this feature offers convenience, there are minor commissions associated with it, although they tend to be relatively modest.
- By choosing the "One Time Buy" option, you will be asked to choose between 3 different payment methods. Bank transfers come with no additional fees, while card payments and Apple Pay incur nominal fees, approximately around 3%. For the purpose of this demonstration, we will proceed by selecting the Apple Pay option to further explore it.
- Lastly, you'll arrive at an order summary that provides a breakdown of all associated fees. As you can observe, in our case, since we opted for a one-time buy of €100, Relai's fees stand at 0%. However, it's worth noting that when using Apple Pay, the credit card fees amount to 3%. It's important to clarify that these fees aren't imposed by Relai; they result from Apple Pay (and the connected credit card) taking their share for each transaction. Therefore, even if it's slower, we recommend using bank transfers for moving fiat currency in your Relai wallet before buying, as it is significantly more cost-effective and doesn't entail additional credit card charges.
- To complete your purchase, simply click on "Buy Now" and confirm the transaction using your Apple Pay or credit card.
- Congratulations, you have successfully bought Bitcoin through Relai!
Relai offers a range of features:
- Ease of Use: User-friendly interface designed for hassle-free Bitcoin buying and selling.
- Soft-KYC: Allows users to buy/sell Bitcoin in certain limits without extensive identification.
- Low Fees: Competitive fee structure, including a free monthly purchase option.
- Secure Wallet: A non-custodial Bitcoin wallet for added security is integrated in the app. In addition, Relai offers the alternative of automatically receiving your purchased Bitcoin directly into your hardware wallet (like Coldcard MK4, Trezor Model T, Blockstream Jade etc).
- Flexible Payment Options: Supports bank transfers, credit/debit cards, and Apple Pay and Google Pay.
- International Reach: Available in Europe, UK, and Switzerland.
- Dollar-Cost Averaging: Option for automated, scheduled Bitcoin purchases.
- 24/7 Customer Support: Accessible through live chat and email.
Other secondary features:
- Relai Private: Exclusive service for high-volume Bitcoin traders (100k+).
- Relai Business: Tailored for small to medium-sized businesses seeking to add Bitcoin to their balance sheets with personalized support and expert guidance.
- Relai Donations: Lower transaction fees and an opportunity to support charitable causes with every Bitcoin purchase.
- Lightning (Coming Soon): Upcoming feature that will allow users to buy/sell Bitcoin using the Lightning Network, enhancing transaction speed and scalability.
Relai Fees & Limits
Relai's fee structure sets it apart from the conventional Bitcoin exchange model. Primarily, they offer your initial Bitcoin purchase at zero fees, particularly for first-time users, and this benefit currently applies to purchases of 50 or 100 EUR/CHF. However, it's important to note that subsequent to your first Relai Bitcoin buy, regular fees may apply.
For those utilizing the DCA (Dollar-Cost Averaging) weekly and monthly solutions, fees do come into play just right after you start using the platform. Fortunately, these fees can be reduced through various means, such as entering the BLOCKDYOR coupon code during the registration phase and exploring other potential options.
Here's a table with the Relai fees (percentages may change overtime):
|Bitcoin network fee||-||✔️|
|Create a savings plan||-0.5%||-|
|Apply BLOCKDYOR referral code||-0.5%||-0.5%|
|Order amount is 100 EUR/CHF or more||-0.5%||-0.5%|
|Potential final fee||1.0%||1.0%|
Relai Fees Example
To illustrate Relai's fee structure with a real-life example, let's consider a one-time Bitcoin purchase at the maximum amount allowed without KYC verification, which is €950 or CHF 1,000. We'll use a bank transfer for this transaction to avoid credit card or Apple Pay fees. In this scenario, the total fees would amount to 1.5%.
This calculation is derived from the base fee of 2.5%, which is reduced by 0.5% for investing more than 100 and an additional 0.5% discount applied when using the BLOCKDYOR invite code during registration. So, it becomes 2.5% - 0.5% - 0.5% = 1.5% (1.5% of €950 is €14.25).
When it comes to the limits for buying and selling Bitcoin, there exists a demarcation between the realms of No-KYC and KYC. For non-KYC users, the threshold stands at 1,000 CHF or 950 EUR per 24 hours, with an annual limit of 100,000 CHF or 95,000 EUR, calculated over 365 days.
This more relaxed rules are made possible because Relai operates as a Swiss-based exchange, adhering to the regulations of the Swiss Financial Services Standards Association (VQF). Swiss regulations are known for being more permissive compared to their European and US counterparts.
However, if you seek unlimited buy/sell limits, undergoing KYC verification is a requisite.
|Swiss Francs (CHF)||Euro (EUR)|
|Minimum amount (Buying)||10 CHF||10 EUR|
|Minimum amount (Selling)||10 CHF||10 EUR|
|24h limits (Non KYC)||1,000 CHF||950 EUR|
|Yearly limits (Non KYC)||100,000 CHF||95,000 EUR|
|24h limits (KYC)||No limit||No limit|
|Yearly limits (KYC)||No limit||No limit|
Who Created Relai?
Established in Switzerland by Julian Liniger and Adem Bilican, Relai emerged from their own quest for a secure and hassle-free platform to purchase Bitcoin. Their mission is to make Bitcoin saving and investment accessible to a wider audience.
Relai distinguishes itself as a Bitcoin-exclusive app, meticulously designed to offer simplicity and user-friendliness. It empowers individuals across Europe to swiftly engage in Bitcoin transactions, all without the cumbersome requirements of registration, verification, or deposits.
What sets Relai apart in terms of promotion is their unique approach. For instance, at the recent BTC Prague event I attended, I couldn't locate a Relai booth, but their distinctive t-shirts were prominently displayed throughout the venue. Notably, they harness the influence of their advisory board members, including prominent figures in the Bitcoin community like Joe Nakamoto Hall, Gigi, Lina Seiche, and Daniel Prince.
Relai maintains a vibrant presence on platforms like Reddit and Twitter, where they creatively engage with their audience through memes and other humorous content, fostering increased engagement.
Their unconventional marketing strategy, particularly within the realm of Bitcoin, has proven highly effective. Relai's popularity is on a steady rise, with impressive statistics to back it up.
According to Relai Stats, the platform boasts over 80,000 active users, 250,000 app downloads, and over $200 million USD in investments. Remarkably, this growth is even more impressive considering that the app's first version was released in 2020, followed by a significant redesign in 2021.
Is Relai safe?
My experience with Relai was seamless, and I'm aware that Relai is part of the Financial Services Standards Association ("VQF"), serving as an Industry Organization for Asset Management and acting as a supervisory authority for Anti-Money Laundering compliance.
Relai prioritizes user privacy and security. Since the app doesn't necessitate the creation of an account in a conventional way or subject users to identity verification, your personal information remains firmly under your control.
Also, Relai's Bitcoin wallet is non-custodial, signifying that Relai lacks access to your wallet's private keys. Consequently, you have the capability to export your wallet by inputting the mnemonic phrase into another software wallet, though I haven't personally tested this and intend to follow up on it.
Relai has undergone independent audits and has facilitated investments exceeding $200 million USD through its platform, offering consumers the opportunity to explore innovative avenues for saving and investing.
Furthermore, it has garnered support from notable figures in the Bitcoin space, including funding from Jeff Booth of Ego Death Capital and the co-founding involvement of influential Bitcoin investors such as Giacomo Zucco and Lars Diener-Kimmich.
Relai Opinions & Reviews
I recently checked out Relai's official Trustpilot page and discovered that it boasts an impressive collection of over 250 reviews, with the majority falling in the 4 to 5-star range.
Users frequently commend the platform for its user-friendliness, making it an ideal choice for those looking to engage in Dollar-Cost Averaging (DCA) without the hassle of time-consuming KYC verifications.
However, it's worth noting that some users reported being required to undergo KYC procedures, even when they hadn't exceeded Relai's stated limits. This raises questions about the clarity of Relai's limits, as it appears to be a subjective matter for some users.
Relai Customer Service
While Relai's non-custodial nature generally ensures a smooth experience, customer service remains crucial. Regrettably, there's no phone hotline for immediate assistance; you must rely on the chat function.
I attempted to use the chat on a Wednesday evening, but it was unresponsive. I plan to revisit this issue in the future for further evaluation.
To the best of my knowledge, there are few "hybrid" platforms like Relai, which combine soft-KYC features with centralized exchange capabilities.
This unique blend is primarily feasible in Switzerland, thanks to the country's specific regulatory framework that sets it apart from the global norm.
- Bisq: Bisq is a versatile, universally accessible application that stands out as one of the best options for those seeking a no-KYC approach to buying and selling BTC. It's available worldwide and operates as a truly decentralized exchange. However, it does come with certain drawbacks, as it lacks a mobile app, can be challenging to navigate, and requires users to already possess BTC in order to initiate BTC purchases.
- Peach: Peach offers a no-KYC, peer-to-peer BTC exchange solution. It caters to users in Europe and the UK, providing a functional platform with low transaction fees. However, it's important to note that while Peach offers privacy, it often comes at a slightly higher cost in terms of market price compared to centralized exchanges.
- 21Bitcoin: 21Bitcoin is an app available in Europe and UK for both iPhone and Android users. It adheres to full KYC requirements but offers ease of use and attractive fee structures. Notably, it provides the option to automate BTC purchases and transfers to cold storage, adding convenience for users looking to secure their holdings.
Relai Pros & Cons
Relai simplifies Bitcoin adoption through its user-friendly platform and soft-KYC rules. While recurring buy fees may be higher, the BLOCKDYOR coupon code offers a means to reduce these costs.
|✅ Easy-to-use app||❌ Uncertainty about exporting 12-word seed phrase|
|✅ Soft-KYC for user privacy||❌ Higher fees for recurring buys|
|✅ Secure non-custodial wallet||❌ Limited cryptocurrency options (Bitcoin-only)|
|✅ Flexible payment options||❌ Limited availability outside Europe, UK, and Switzerland|
|✅ Upcoming Lightning Network support||❌ Lack of detailed information on certain features|
|✅ Charitable support option||❌ No desktop or web app availability|
Relai brings a breath of fresh air into the world of Bitcoin app-like exchanges. It's a delight to navigate their straightforward functions, allowing for KYC-free Bitcoin transactions within established limits.
The true allure lies in the fact that upon installation and app launch, a non-custodial Bitcoin wallet is generated, granting you exclusive control over your Bitcoin stack.
However, some users, including myself, may prefer to consolidate funds into a personal hardware wallet, adding an extra layer of security with the seed phrase and personal entropy. And with Relai, this is also absolutely possible thanks to the possibility to send funds automatically to your hardware wallet.
Reputation: Despite being a relatively new player in the field, Relai is gaining recognition thanks to its unconventional marketing strategies and intriguing platform. Trustpilot confirms this. Rating: 5/5.
Technology: Relai's utilization of a seedphrase to access funds within the app, combined with its non-custodial nature as an exchange, is truly innovative. The platform is continually evolving, promising even more improvements in the future. Rating: 5/5.
Customer Service: While there is no phone support, accessing customer service through the prominently placed button on the main page makes it relatively easy to get in touch. However, availability might be limited during nighttime hours. Rating: 4/5.
Fees: Relai maintains transparent fee structures and offers opportunities to reduce fees using promotional codes. While they are not the lowest in the industry, they are fair and honest about their pricing. Rating: 4/5.
Ease of Use: Relai's app is exceptionally user-friendly, but its lack of a progressive web app or web-based platform could potentially hinder adoption. A progressive web app would provide a solution to accessibility concerns, especially in regions where app store availability has been sporadic. Rating: 5/5.