Big in Japan but Moneytree is coming home

  • By Christian Edwards

Aussie-born, Tokyo-headquartered fintech Moneytree aims to take on the local market armed with Series B funding of JPY 1 billion (A$11.7 million), a bag full of financial data tools and CEO Paul Chapman’s unique take on regional success.

“Banking is in many ways the ultimate domestic industry, largely impervious to encroachment by outsiders," Chapman (pictured in centre, with his American co-founders) told AB+F. “I believe a global and also hyper-local strategy is imperative for success outside your home market.”

Founded in Japan five years ago, Moneytree’s digital solution aggregates a user’s financial data in a single place, managing all aspects of a financial life in an electronic world.

Moneytree was awarded Apple’s App Store “Best of” for iPad and iPhone in 2013 and 2014, yet the challenge now for Chapman is to replicate the seed-to-sapling success across Asia into Australia and beyond.

“I have long thought the domestic market here is ideal to incubate and sustain a future global player. Moneytree is now taking that first step outside Japan and another step toward realising that dream," he said.

“As an Asian company with a deep understanding of how very different each Asian market is, Moneytree's challenge is to show success in a market like Australia."

The Series B funding round will drive the race for scale across the global fintech industry, including an entrance into the Australian market within the coming months, according to a Moneytree statement.

Seismic shift in technology

Moneytree will use the additional funding to burnish further functionality onto the finance management app that Chapman has stitched into the fabric of Japan's fintech ecosystem.

“We recognised a big opportunity in a large market at the beginning of a seismic shift in technology. Bank customers and the banks themselves had unmet and unrecognised needs. Japanese banks were slow to adopt native smartphone apps," he said.

“That was the crack in the door we needed to gain a foothold."

Today, Moneytree LINK - the fintech's financial data portability platform - is already the number one platform in the Japanese accounting industry.

With the capacity now to tighten and deepen Moneytree’s bonding of banks and customers across Japan (think Japanese ‘mega banks’ - Mizuho Bank Ltd and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation et al) through a permission-based, data-sharing platform, Chapman has chosen the path less traveled for achieving fintech’s invisible tipping point of scale

Regional expansion doesn’t just mean setting up there and launching into other markets, Chapman said.

“The opportunity for Australian companies in Asia is similar to the opportunity for local companies: become a fixture in another market, find new sources of revenue, build a sustainable and profitable business. Australia is a wealthy and technologically advanced market, yet small in software terms. Regional expansion is one way to achieve considerable scale," he said.

“In coming months, we will expand beyond the Japanese market and become a regional player, working for positive change, and cementing a position as the most trusted financial data portability platform.

“I'd be rapt if we could take Australia to Asia, and the region to the rest of the world, but first things first,” Chapman added.