Japan’s Quick Money Recorder, personal budgeting app, exceeds 3M downloads worldwide

Smart Idea founder and CEO Shohei Ejiri

See the original story in Japanese.

A country like Japan is apt to attempt making it convenient just by implementing high tech. However, in contrast to Japan’s e-commerce industry which enhances conversion by utilizing artificial intelligence these days, Thailand’s chat-based one provides much higher user experiences than any other advanced platforms. While Japan created a public transportation system by introducing e-money on behalf of tickets, stations in Europe or Korea originally without ticket barriers are rather convenient; on the contrary, there is no need for implementing costs.

Needless to say, implementing high technologies does not always meet users’ convenience or satisfaction. The idea of ‘simple is best’ not only can be applied to designs, but to apps or systems.

Japan’s Quick Money Recorder, provided by Tokyo-based startup Smart Idea, is an app for household account book with the very concept of ‘simple is best.’ It focuses only on simple input of articles and money amount, while other similar apps have been enhancing automatic reading receipts or cooperation with online systems. About three years after its launch, Quick Money Recorder has achieved 3 million downloads in total for Android and iOS this month.


Shohei Ejiri, formerly worked on product marketing at Nokia, set up a marketing research company MobileMarketing.JP in 2005. Subsequently he started Smart Idea as an app developer in 2012. The team has been developing apps only for household account book and related needs, namely Quick Money Recorder for easy input of money amount from receipt, and Kaimonoreko (literally meaning “shopper’s recorder”) for recording money amount not to exceed the estimate while shopping.

Ejiri explains:

When I started Smart Idea, there was no household account book apps to which I could stick to for long, as with many people around me. Therefore, I set out to develop Quick Money Recorder, aiming at enabling continuous use, even for me.

Quick Money Recorder allows you to input articles and money amount in only two seconds upon purchasing items. It is assumed to have been input on the spot. To reduce the trouble associated with household account book upon input or habit-building, eventually I chose this style.

User feedbacks show that this approach was right. MAU (Monthly Active Users) of Quick Money Recorder are 800,000 and DAU (Daily Active Users) are 150,000 for Android and iOS, that is, one in four users uses the app continuously. According to questionnaires for users conducted by Smart Idea last year, the satisfaction rate reached 96%.

Ejiri elaborated:

Our users are70% women and 30% men. Many of the women use the app for management of the household, and married men it use in managing their allowance. Also poor college student users can often be seen using it.

In addition, after the Lehman collapse, more and more people are getting overwhelmed by excessive credit-card loans in the U.S.; thus the necessity of financial literacy came to be discussed. As a result, our app may have some opportunities to be introduced at school classes and so forth.

Holding annual user events, user interviewing every half years, and questionnaires every three months, Smart Idea collects and archives requests for function addition or improvement of the app as video or text forms. By bringing users’ opinions with them directly to the development team in Hanoi, Vietnam, Smart Idea motivates them and shares a sense of need for continuous development.

Ejiri added:

When smartphones were first introduced, mainly tech users used them. However, as feature phones disappear gradually, main users of smartphones are shifting to ordinary people not familiar with tech. Such kind of users does not need functions like account aggregations.

While many of other apps feature the receipt reading function based on OCR (Optical Character Recognition), their recognition rates can never achieve 100% anyhow. Manual input is the simplest. I bet there is no absolute solution to a problem of household account book as to easy and continuous input. Nevertheless, trying to resolve this problem has been set as our mission.

As reported earlier, Pie, information-sharing platform for business, also unveiled their strategy that they aim to differentiate with Slack by targeting non-tech geeks as users. Today smart devices have been distributed to people regardless of being tech-savvy or not, thereby every app would become bipolarized depending on its users’ utilization time or frequency. Although it may be niche, there can be possibilities of new markets for startups.

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Translated by Taijiro Takeda
Edited by “Tex” Pomeroy and Masaru Ikeda