These days in Japan, there are a bunch of startups providing accounting or financial solutions, both for personal and business use. Let’s take a quick rundown of some of the more popular ones.
BizNote by CrowdCast ¶
BizNote is a cloud-based accounting app that helps SME owners and startup managers handle their cash flows using their PC or smartphone. The app aims to simplify accounting, thus letting business spend their time on more important tasks.
BizNote won the top award at the Yayoi App Contest, an Android app competition run by Japan’s largest accounting software company. It recently added key features like receipt scanning as well as data integration with major accounting software packages. It’s available in English and Japanese, and for free for the first 30-days. Apps are available for iOS, Android, Windows Phone, and Google Chrome.
The app was developed by CrowdCast, a company founded in 2011 by Takashi Hoshikawa. He previously worked with Microsoft Japan and DEC Japan.
Coiney is Japan’s first-ever smartphone-based credit card processing service. It’s similar to services like Square, Paypal Here, and Swiff. The company was founded by ex-Paypal Japan employee Naoko Samata and won the top prize at Rising Expo 2012, a startup showcase competition event held by CyberAgent Ventures.
The startup announced in February that it had fundraised 100 million yen (over $1 million) from four investors including East Ventures, CyberAgent Ventures, and Shinji Kimura (the founder of ad platform developer AtLantis). It has partnered with Sumitomo Mitsui Card, the largest issuer/acquirer of Visa-affiliated credit cards in Japan, and is working together with them to accelerate merchant acquisition.
I previously spoke with the team when the service was launched last October, so check that out for more details.
Freee by CFO K.K. ¶
The recently launched Freee is a cloud-based accounting solution that aims to set SME owners free of tedious accounting tasks. By synchronizing your account to this cloud system (which is integrated with web services provided by banks and credit companies) your payments will be logged in the system using web-scraping technology. They are sorted into the appropriate categories corresponding to the items you’ve purchased.
It was developed by CFO K.K., a company founded in July of 2012 by ex-Googler Daisuke Sasaki and ex-Sony engineer Ryu Yokoji. They’ve been developing the service as a stealth project at their home, and fundraised 50 million yen (about $523,000) from notable US-based VC firm DCM in December.
Hottoscope is a data-mining company that provides market analysis and prediction based on the aggregated information from social media. It provides analysis to Bloomberg Terminal, one of the most famous information resources for stock traders.
The company was launched about 12 years ago as a kind of a hobby/study group at the University of Tokyo. Since then it has been providing various tools for analyzing social updates to prevent companies from being financially damaged by harmful rumors and misinformation.
Kanmu’s Card Link ¶
By associating coupons with your credit card, Kanmu allows you to get discounts from participating merchants when paying with a credit card. For merchants, you’ll be charged on a performance basis, and can reduce transfer fees while easily targeting a specific segment of customers. For the consumers, you even don’t need to print coupons beforehand or present virtual coupons with your smartphone at storefronts.
The startup was founded by Wataru Yamaki who previously worked with several web startups as an intern. He also has developed Marketgeek.
Makeleaps is a web-based invoicing solution that targets startups and SME owners. It was founded in 2010 by Tokyo-based (Australian) entrepreneur Jason Winder who’s also known for organizing Hacker News Tokyo. They launched the service in Japan because people here aggressively pursue product quality, which is why he believes his business can work globally once it succeeds here. In addition to invoice delivery via snail mail and fax, the startup provides an optional dunning service too.
Misoca by Stand Firm ¶
Misoca is an online invoice-issuing solution for startups and SMEs, a service provided by Nagoya-based company Stand Firm. The app is totally cloud-based and has features to send invoices to your clients via snail mail or fax.
Money Forward provides online personal accounting for individuals, allowing them to easily manage their daily expenses by integrating with their bank passbooks and credit purchase history with information scraped from their web account. The startup was spun-off from Tokyo’s famous online stock brokerage Monex in 2012. It recently raised 100 million yen (over $1 million) from several angel investors and WIT Corporation, a TLO (technology licensing organization) under Waseda University.
Mycredit.jp provides a credibility report of your finances, a sort of Japanese version of Experian or Equifax. By authenticating your identity over the phone, you will be able to get the report in just about 10 minutes after placing the order. This is intended as a service to check your credibility prior to applying for a house mortgage. Subsequently you can find a way to improve your standing for future borrowing from financial institutions.
The startup was founded by serial entrepreneur Russell Cummer who’s also running Acqush, a Tokyo-based social lending startup, backed by Dave McClure’s 500 Startups.
Paygate by Royal Gate ¶
Paygate is a credit card processor that works as an attachment to tablets and smartphones. Using it together with a small printer, merchants can issue receipts to customers at purchase. The product is intended for people like motorcycle messengers, or insurance canvassers.
The service was developed by a 5-year-old IT company, and fundraised a total of 100 million yen (over $1 million) from NTT Investment Partners and Mizuho Capital in its final seed round in 2011.
ReceReco by Brain Pad ¶
Tokyo-based data mining company Brain Pad launched an iOS app called ReceReco (receipt recording) last month. By scanning receipts with your iPhone camera, the personal accounting app can recognize what you’ve paid for, visualize it in diagrams, and even lets you to share to Evernote or Facebook.
Brain Pad was founded in 2004 and was ranked 23rd place on Deloitte’s Fast50 Japan, a ranking of 50 Japanese tech companies based on revenue growth in Japan.
Totte Okuru ¶
Totte Okuru is an iPhone app developed by Tokyo-based startup Pirika Works. The app allows users to easily record expenses by scanning your receipts. Unlike similar services, scanned images will be transferred to keypunchers and entered to the system manually, which enables reading of not only machine-printed receipts but also hand-written ones.
The service uses people living in the Tohoku region for keypunching, which goes a little ways towards helping some people affected by the 2011 East Japan Earthquake.
Ubiregi is a cloud-based POS (point of sales) system that uses an iPad at the storefront. Compared to conventional systems, it can be reasonably deployed and easily maintained, especially for individual merchants like small restaurants, standing bars, and accessory shops.
The startup was launched by Keita Kido in August of 2010, and raised around 20 million yen (over $200,000) from Voyage Ventures and Kronos Fund. It also has a capital tie-up with SalesForce.com.
Zaim is a smartphone app that allows you to input your expenses into an assortment of categories, thus gaining some insight into your spending habits thanks to its graphic analysis. The startup has partnered with OCN Kakeibo, a cloud-based household accounting solution run by NTT Communications, and allows users to shorten the time requirements of their bookkeeping tasks.
It was launched in 2011 by Japan’s notable geek girl Takako Kansai. Zaim was incorporated last September, and raised 42 million yen (about $450,000) from Japan’s top recipe sharing site Cookpad. My colleague Rick spoke with her a little more about the service in this Tech in Asia article.