Kunai Partners With Relief App to Tackle Consumer Debt With Free-to-Use Mobile App

What is Relief?
Founded in 2020
Unicorn startup helming a consumer app designed to help Americans tackle consumer debt
Built by Kunai in 2021, continued development ongoing


Relief App is a unicorn startup helming a consumer app designed to help Americans tackle consumer debt.

Founded in 2020, Relief set out to guide Americans through their financial hurdles, in a simple, easy-to-access manner. To that end, the company has designed a mobile app to make financial relief accessible to those who need it.

The Challenge

Around 80% of Americans possess some form of consumer debt, with the average debt amount sitting around $38,000.

Regardless of where the debt comes from, many Americans struggle with “playing catch-up” with their bills. Any combination of low income, easy access to credit cards, high cost of living, lack of financial education, and unexpected emergencies contribute to the rising debt epidemic in the United States.

Third-party debt collection agencies use many automation tools that could potentially help individuals seeking debt relief, but unfortunately, those tools and services aren’t extended to consumer use. To address the issue of crushing consumer debt and lack of access to relevant tools, Relief floated the idea of reinventing debt consolidation with machine learning algorithms and collective bargaining.

Offering debt consolidation and loans for folks in financial peril wasn’t anything new, but the ability to negotiate on behalf of the user was not (and still is not) a broadly available feature on similar platforms. Relief could potentially provide accessible and free debt relief services to the general public, granting individuals freedom from the haunting pressures of debt.

The Solution

Relief latched onto the idea of collective bargaining and began to flesh out some of the details. They could use the power of its entire user base to negotiate with creditors to bring down balances and lower interest rates. Once negotiations were complete they could then set up payment plans for its users to pay off the rest of their debt.

Relief was aware of Kunai’s past work with unicorn start-ups, and approached them for their expertise in the FinTech space. They saw that Kunai was a company of forward-thinking technologists, daring entrepreneurs, and creative innovators.

With their deep expertise of FinTech platforms, mobile development across iOS and Android, and machine learning– Kunai would help Relief fully plan out their app and breathe a story into every facet of their software.

“When Relief approached us about their product, we were thrilled. There’s a reason why we have so much experience with creating debt relief apps. This is a cause that we feel very strongly about, so we more or less knew that we were onboard from the get-go.” Youhee Choi, Product Manager, Kunai

The Process

Navigating Through a Fog

Kunai’s first challenge was to translate Relief’s vision into tangible functions. Relief’s developers had already started building out their platform, and while Kunai awaited the arrival of technical documentation, they determined that some ideas were impractical to implement. Furthermore, a consensus amongst stakeholders regarding the scope of the project also proved to be far too time consuming to achieve up front.

Kunai found themselves at a fork in the road. They could burn daylight mapping out all the requirements up front, or adapt to shifting demands on a need-basis throughout the development process.

Given Kunai’s flexible dev teams, they decided that it would prove to be far more effective to map out the waters in real-time. They would continue development and address any issues as they came up.

Sailing Through Crystal Clear Waters

As development continued, both Kunai’s and Relief’s teams fell into a perfect rhythm. Kunai brought to the table an abundance of experience and foresight, allowing development to continue onward with minimal hiccups.

Kunai’s consultants helped redefine the base infrastructure to better support future scalability, security, and compliance. In some cases, certain features had to be redeveloped from the ground up, but thanks to both teams’ collaboration, these cases were swiftly resolved.

Banking as a Service

Unit was utilized to provide the most robust, feature-complete banking services to Relief’s users.

The following are additional integrations Kunai leveraged to customize the Unit platform to Relief’s specifications.

Integrations - Plaid

Relief leveraged Kunai’s expertise in the financial and banking fields to create the Banking as a Service aspect of the Relief app.

By utilizing Plaid, users could connect existing bank accounts to the Relief app to confer upon users the ability to initiate ACH Payments for debt repayment.

Integrations - MethodFi

Kunai leveraged MethodFi’s API to link to thousands of lenders across the US. MethodFi boasts a 95% consumer debt coverage range, allowing Relief to provide as universal an accessibility as possible.

MethodFi was used to facilitate data retrieval while also maintaining compliance at all touchpoints.

Integrations - Pinwheel

Pinwheel is an API consumer reporting agency, giving Relief the ability to pull credit reports, income and employment data, and other FCRA permissible information. This grants Relief a more powerful negotiation platform and enables them to provide users customized payment plans.

Integrations - Synctera

Kunai leveraged Synctera to allow Unit to better handle the relationship between consumer accounts, the Relief platform, and sponsor banks.

The Result

Free-To-Use App: Relief

In the end, Kunai successfully developed the Relief app as envisioned by Relief’s stakeholders. Development turnaround was fast, and a free-to-use mobile application designed to help customers feel relief from the burden of debt was created.

Thanks to streamlined collaboration, effective development procedures, and responsive communication channels– Kunai was able to launch an alpha version of the Relief app to 1000+ people in record time.

Relief’s feature set gives the individual consumer far more power to negotiate with creditors than ever before. Additionally, Relief shipped with additional functions to provide users as much relevant information as possible to empower them to make informed financial decisions.

Feature: Debt Relief

Debt relief is the core function of the Relief App. By leveraging machine learning algorithms and collective bargaining, Relief can drastically reduce debt balances.

In essence, Relief does the math on behalf of its users and negotiates directly with creditors to bring down debt balances, all for free.

Feature: Credit Simulator

Users will see a short-term, temporary reduction in credit score due to how credit is calculated in the US.

A credit calculator would help to assuage users’ fears regarding lowering their credit by providing them with a transparent view of how elastic their credit can be.

Feature: Relief Insights

This feature is derived from analyzing a user’s personal income from their Relief account, Plaid accounts, or other linked accounts by taking into consideration a user’s goals (data obtained from the sign up process, negative debt situation, credit report, and potential manual inputs).

Relief App analyzes this data and uses its derived insights to come up with the best possible solution to tackle the user’s debt.

Feature: Security and Compliance

Kunai builds all of their products with compliance and security in mind, and the Relief App is no different. Compliance and security experts worked closely with the development team to ensure that every facet of the app exercised security best practice.

A Continued Collaboration

Kunai and Relief still enjoy a strong partnership. Kunai is currently assisting Relief scale their application to take it into the beta phase.

“At Kunai we are very proud to be part of something that will change people's lives. To see and be a part of a movement to free people from debt is a privilege that we hold very dear to our hearts. We hope to see Relief’s user base explode in number in the days to come.” Neil Tolani, Founder @kunai.