Seems like every day another company is rolling out a digital wallet. But there's one key difference with Lemon Inc.'s Smarter Wallet —in its current form, it's meant not for payments but for peace of mind.
Lemon, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based mobile money-management application provider, this week announced the launch of Smarter Wallet, which allows users to digitize their cards and other items using a smartphone's camera.
The key benefit of the Lemon wallet is its ability to store card details and manage their spending on a mobile device. Part of the company's sales pitch is that the mobile wallet acts as a secure backup in case users ever lose their physical wallet.
Smarter Wallet may eventually add a payment function once an industry standard is agreed on, according to a report on FastCompany.com. Some elements in Smarter Wallet hint at this already, such as the quick-response (QR) codes it generates based on users' scanned credit card account numbers.
With the virtual wallet, consumers may use a smartphone's camera to capture the images of all the credit, debit, loyalty and ID cards as well as receipts, tickets and coupons they may have in their physical wallets and save them to their Lemon accounts. The wallet secures the data using 32-bit encryption, and users may access the information through their phones from anywhere using a four-digit PIN, which Lemon requires.
Smarter Wallet integrates with Lemon's cloud-based digital receipt-storage and organization tools, allowing consumers to "take control over their finances with a fresh, new perspective," Wences Casares, Lemon's founder and CEO, said in a news release. He could not be reached for an interview.
Consumers can use Smarter Wallet to display how much money they have and where they've spent it. It also allows users to access credit card information when shopping online. The user can log in to Lemon.com to copy and paste the card data into the checkout page, the company said in the release.
To launch the Smarter Wallet service, Lemon secured $8 million in Series A capital funding. Maveron, the consumer tech-focused firm co-founded by Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, led the funding round.
Since Lemon launched late last year as a service to help individuals digitize their receipts, it has built a base of more than 1 million downloads of its free mobile money-management app for iPhone, Android and Windows Phone devices.
Although Smarter Wallet is not a payment app, Lemon eventually may add that functionality, according to Maveron Partner Amy Erret, who has joined the Lemon board of directors.
"Many people remain skeptical about the direct shift to payment-based digital wallet technologies for security reasons," Erret said in a news release. "But with the Smarter Wallet, Lemon is laying a strong and secure foundation for a more gradual transition that promises to change the way people think about the digital-wallet concept."
Security reasons are one issue, and the proliferation of mobile-wallet apps by such companies as Square Inc., PayPal Inc., MasterCard Worldwide and Visa Inc. is another that will determine the success of Lemon and the others, says Gil Luria, an analyst with Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles.
Consumers are leery of storing all of their financial information in one place, and "it doesn't matter how safe you make it, you still have to convince people to use it," he says.
That's where the competitive forces in the market come in.
"Think of this as a gold rush," Luria says. "There's a lot of people trying to get a piece of the pie," and the company offering product value that its competitors can't stands a chance of succeeding, he says
Smarter Wallet is included in the basic free Lemon service and with the premium Lemon Pro service that costs $9.99 a month. The Pro version allows users to share expenses and export data. It also removes ads, provides faster processing of scanned items and allows users to store unlimited in-depth receipts (the free version charges 99 cents to generate each such receipt).
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