Lemon.com, the company behind the handy cloud-based receipt organizer and spending tracker mobile app, has now expanded its platform to include digital wallet functionality. And it has just landed an $8 million Series A, too. The new funding was led by Maveron, the VC firm co-founded by Starbucks’ CEO Howard Schultz – an investor specifically chosen because of Starbucks’ success with its own branded mobile payments application. Also participating in the round were Lightspeed Venture Partners, CampVentures, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Chamath Palihapitiya’s Social+Capital Partnership and other angels.
The digital wallet feature actually soft-launched a few days earlier with little fanfare, as a way to organize the cards your wallet currently contains. That includes credit cards, store and loyalty cards, ID cards, insurance cards and more. The app is PIN-protected and currently works mainly as a backup of what’s in your wallet for safe-keeping. (Or copying/pasting into checkout screens when mobile shopping, perhaps). But, despite its name, this “wallet” isn’t offering any sort of mobile payment functionality as of yet.
Instead, explains Lemon.com CEO Wences Casares, the idea is to create a platform where all mobile payment and loyalty card players can operate. “Our focus is on the consumer experience,” he explains. “We want to be a very open wallet…so we’re allowing third parties to work within Lemon provide these kind of services.”
While the wallet functionality has gone live for end users, the platform itself (which makes it open to third parties) won’t launch until July. However, Casares tells us that there will be a number of partner announcements which will accompany news of that launch when the time comes. The idea seems to be that coupons, offers and other loyalty-related discounts will not only be stored in Lemon’s wallet, but will also be location-enabled, so the app will remind you of your available deals when you walk in a store. But to be clear, Lemon itself isn’t moving into the loyalty space – it’s planning to partner with those who are already there.
Although forming partnerships with both loyalty programs and brands is going to be an important part of Lemon’s future expansion, Casares explains that there’s a lot Lemon can do without specific partnership agreements in place. “If you have a gift card, we can process and scan it,” he says, “and then you can throw away the card.” As for mobile payments, he says that it’s going to take a while for the industry to come up with a standard everyone agrees on. But whatever that may end up being, Lemon wants to support it through its wallet platform. (In other words, making all your store cards work as well through Lemon as that Starbucks card/app does today isn’t something that will be switched on in the immediate future).
The Lemon wallet looks a lot like Square’s digital wallet in terms of interface, but Casares doesn’t see Square as competition, saying that Square is more merchant-focused, while Lemon is consumer-focused. In addition, some of the features the Lemon digital wallet offers or plans to offer have also just been wrapped up in Apple’s newly announced “Passbook” app which will collect boarding passess, store cards and movie tickets when it launches later this year via iOS 6. (And Apple’s could very well serve as the basis for a more robust wallet platform in the future, if you want to speculate. Lemon could still have the advantage of being cross-platform, though).
But neither Square, Google Wallet nor Passbook include the exact feature set which Lemon plans to – not just receipt scanning, storage and sharing, but also the ability to save and store all your cards (payment and otherwise), as well as (forthcoming) support for finding and saving coupons, too.
Casares says the additional funding will be used in hiring more engineers, marketing and for customer acquisition purposes. This is the first outside investment for the Palo Alto-based startup, which had been bootstrapping until now.
Lemon is a free download, but a premium version ($9.99/month) offers advanced capabilities for power users.
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