Japanese banking is one of the most conservative industries in one of the most conservative countries in the world. That’s what makes it both so difficult and so profitable to disrupt.
Today, Paul Chapman talks to us about the founding and growth of Moneytree, a personal finance app that is quickly growing into something much bigger and more important.
Japan still has a reputation as being a closed market, and it is harder than many, but if Paul and his two Western co-foudners can make this big an impact in such a traditional and conservative industry, it seems that things are opening up here.
Paul also gives some practical advice for foreigners, or anyone else, who is thinking of starting a startup in Japan.
It’s a great discussion, and I think you’ll enjoy it.
Show Notes for Startups
Asking for forgiveness rather than permission in Japan
What’s behind the sudden interest in Japanese FinTech
The unique importance of loyalty points in Japan
Why viral-marketing a FinTech app is difficult
How foreign startups can reach Japanese consumers
Advice for westerners wanting to start companies in Japan
Links from the Founder
Check out Moneytree on twitter @moneytreejp
Follow Paul on twitter @pchap10k
Friend Paul on Facebook
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Transcript from Japan
Disrupting Japan. Episode 43.
Welcome to Disrupting Japan. Straight talk from Japan’s most successful entrepreneurs. I’m Tim Romero, thanks for listening.
Today’s story is one that will resonate with many of our overseas listeners. It’s about how three foreigners in Japan are shaking up one of the most conservative industries in the country and one of the most conservative industries in the world actually. Paul Chapman and his cofounders Ross and Mark started Moneytree about four years ago as an app to help consumers manage their spending but the products and the company has grown into so much more than that over the last three years and they’re on the brink of doing something even bigger.
We’ll talk with Paul about the founding of the growth of Moneytree and also go over some practical advice for foreigners or anyone else really wanting to start a business in Japan. Japan still has a reputation of being a closed market but let’s face it, if a group of Westerners with no Japanese co-founder can have this kind of an impact than things are really opening up here. So let’s get right to the interview.
Tim: So I’m sitting here with Paul Chapman of Moneytree. If I was to describe it, I’d say Moneytree is Mint for Japan. It’s some much more than that. You can explain it even much better.
Paul: It’s an App that shows you where, when and how you’re spending your money.
Tim: And how does it do that?
Paul: Well, we use data aggregation technology so we’ve built a virtualized browser that can do everything a human. Log in your bank account, credit card loyalty points, digital money accounts online, it’ll pick up your balance all the transactions you have and it will clean the data because a lot of that data is not too clean, it will categorize using artificial intelligence.
Tim: So to say the clothing purchase or if it’s a taxi cab or a business expense?
Paul: Yes, exactly.
Tim: Got it.
Paul: And then you get to see it on your phone and the idea was we wanted to make finances as easily accessible as email and as instant as chat because chat tells you things. Someone sends you a chat message “ping” and it arrives.
Tim: Listeners in America and Europe will think this is an obvious idea.
Paul: Yeah, it’s obvious.
Tim: But this was kind of a radical concept to Japan when you started out in…
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