Japanese mobile finance start-up Moneytree bags $1.6 million seed funding

Source: Moneytreee

Moneytree™, a mobile financial technology startup headquartered in Japan, today announced a US$1.6m (¥150M) seed round in funding led by DG Incubation Inc., the investment subsidiary of prolific Japanese tech company Digital Garage. Other investors include former senior executives from PayPal, MasterCard, and Morgan Stanley.

Moneytree gives people secure, on-demand access to their financial data via a single passcode-protected app. It currently supports over 80% of Japanese financial institutions by market share, and over 1,000 institutions will be supported by 2014.

The app first launched on the iTunes App Store in April 2013 and was immediately featured as the App Store Staff Pick. Moneytree has since remained a featured app for six consecutive months, becoming one of the top 50 apps on the entire App Store in Japan. To date, Moneytree has been downloaded more than 200,000 times, and aggregated over 15 million transactions completed. It is also frequently outranking official apps of major banks in Japan.

"We are at the beginning of a mobile-first era in money management," said Paul Chapman, CEO and founder of Moneytree. "Moneytree believes that individuals should be at the core of the banking experience. We have created a personal finance app designed with a radically different approach. We leave behind concepts of accounting and rigid budgeting, and instead embrace ideas from the 'quantified self' movement. Think of Moneytree as a fitness tracking app for your money. It helps you quantify your cash usage, fine tune how you think about money and stay financially fit."

The Moneytree Platform

For the consumer, Moneytree is a one-stop mobile platform to track and manage your money. Currently it is available exclusively for iPhone and iPad, compatible with both iOS6 and iOS7. An iPad HD version and responsive web app are planned for launch in 2014.

Key technology features include:

Automated data categorization. Moneytree's machine learning algorithms leverage both crowd-sourced decisions and every individual user's preferences to categorize transactions automatically.
Real-time tracking and intelligent notifications. With deep domain knowledge of both online banking systems and financial industry practices, Moneytree intelligently tracks cash spending, income and crome and credit card usage.
Helps prevent credit card bill shock. Moneytree notifies users ahead of time of their total liability for all types of card charges, beyond just purchases. This helps prevent "bill shock" at the end of each month.
Highly scalable cloud infrastructure. Moneytree has been architected to fully utilize the capabilities of Amazon Web Services (AWS), ensuring Moneytree continues providing a responsive and highly available service, while also meeting future growth targets into the millions.
Best-of-breed security and privacy protection. All Moneytree customer login details are multiple encrypted and stored in the AWS cloud, not on the device. Data is protected in transit using 256-bit SSL encryption, and SSL certificate pinning is used to mitigate man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks. In fact, the level of on-device security is stricter than many official bank apps in the world today.

"The success of Moneytree in Japan demonstrates that consumers are hungry for more dynamic ways to interact with their financial institutions. Moneytree is in effect reinventing the way people relate to money," said Jonathan Epstein, former head of PayPal Japan, also an independent investor and chairman of Moneytree. "I am absolutely confident in the company's potential in making its vision of the quantified financial self a reality."

For businesses, Moneytree is planning a market analytics service, offering uniquely valuable insights into consumer behavior including share of wallet, market share and competitor benchmarking across a wide range of industries. Publishers and marketers will be able to leverage these insights for targeted content and ad placements based on financial profiling. More information about Moneytree's B2B solution will be announced in the first half of 2014.

The Moneytree Team

CEO and co-founder Paul Chapman is a serial entrepreneur who founded e-recruitment SaaS company, cvMail Services Pty Ltd. in 2000, which was later acquired by Thomson Reuters in 2007. While working at Tokyo based professional services firm enWorld (formerly Wall Street Associates), Chapman met Moneytree co-founders Mark Makdad and Ross Sharrott, with whom he started a mobile consulting and app development business, Long Weekend LLC., in 2009. The three saw a great market opportunity in Japan's personal financial software segment and founded Moneytree in April 2012.

The company's board of advisers includes Mr. Jonathan Epstein, former country manager for Paypal Japan, Mr. Douglas W Lorentz, former executive vice president of North Asia for MasterCard (Western Union Japan), Mr. Yasuhisa Tsuchihashi, former general manager of Sumitomo Mitsui Finance & Lease and Natasha Mandie, chief executive officer of Mandie Consulting and former Credit Suisse executive.

Along with the founders and advisors, Moneytree has assembled a team of international experts in app development, design, cloud computing, information security and data analysis to execute on the vision of radically simplifying people's relationship with money.

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