It has been a while since we checked in on Japanese personal finance app Zaim. So I was surprised and delighted to bump into the service’s creator Takako Kansai at an event in Osaka last week. In addition to being a mainstay app on my mobile, letting me scan my receipts and track my spending, Zaim also has one of the best founder stories ever, as Takako developed her app during her subway commute to and from work.
She informed me that Zaim has recently surpassed one million downloads, and is expected to reach two million sometime next year. Takako says that their relationship with Cookpad, after raising 42 million yen from the company, is “very good”. She adds that when you use Zaim to scan a receipt with your mobile, the supermarket information is saved to their database. But they can also connect to the Cookpad database, and get more information from there to serve their users as well. In this way, users are provided special bargains or promotions about local supermarkets via Cookpad’s bargain search service.
When I asked what the next step is for Zaim, Takako could only say that it was a secret. So we know there’s something, although it’s hard to guess what that might be. So far the app has been focused on slow incremental improvements, but thankfully it has managed to retain the simplicity and ease-of-use that made it strong to start with. Given Zaim’s continued focus on the user, I expect that any upcoming new features will make it easier to use, and help solidify it’s foothold as one of Japan’s dominant finance apps.
You can check out our short interview with Takako in the video above. And if you have yet to check out Zaim, you can get it for iOS, Android, and on the web.