We trust Salesforce and Heroku - if we didn't we wouldn't run our business on it. Our #1 value is trust so it makes sense to partner with the experts on security.”

Mark Makdad, Head of Platform
 

12 months

to build & launch award winning app on Salesforce

 

While money doesn’t grow on trees, personal finance app Moneytree is helping millions of users to build their wealth. Mark Makdad, Paul Chapman and Ross Sharrott founded the company in Tokyo in 2012 when the trio recognised a market opportunity to help people defragment their personal finances.

“Many people have a bank account, a retirement savings account, and a couple of credit cards – not to mention membership in a range of loyalty programs,” says Mark Makdad, Head of Platform at Moneytree. “We found that it was difficult for people to manage such a fragmented financial life, and we wanted to come up with a way for people to view all of their financial information in one place.”

The Moneytree app links directly to users’ bank and credit card accounts, superannuation funds and loyalty programs to display real-time financial information in one easy-to-use app. It offers users a simple way to track their spending and get a detailed picture of their financial health in real time.

And it has become a mega hit in Japan. Moneytree was named Apple’s ‘App of the Year’ for two consecutive years, and became the first startup to receive simultaneous investment from Japan’s three major banks in a funding round led by Salesforce Ventures.

Makdad and the Moneytree team decided against building a website platform, and instead launched the company with a stand-alone app that is built on Heroku.

“Heroku’s simple interface really aligned with our core value of simplicity. It meant that we could get the app up and running quickly at a low cost,” he says. “Using Heroku also allowed us to our focus on managing the company rather than reinventing the wheel when it came to the back-end development.”

It took a team of five less than 12 months to launch the app. It has since been downloaded more than four million times. However, scaling up hasn’t been a problem for the innovative startup.

“Heroku works on a system of ‘dynos’. A single slider allows us to add more dynos when we’re busy, and then we can easily scale back down when required to manage costs,” explains Makdad.

Makdad and the Moneytree team are also very focused on security. They place a high priority on securing their users’ financial data, and were attracted to Heroku for its similar commitment.

“We trust Salesforce and Heroku -- if we didn't we wouldn't run our business on it. Our number-one value is trust so it makes sense to partner with the experts on security.

“Heroku features all the standard security measures you’d expect, such as two-factor authentication and permissions on administrative users. But what really impressed us is Heroku’s clear distinction that what’s running in the platform belongs to us.

“For example, whenever we open a support case, Heroku asks whether they are allowed to access our production environment to help debug the issue. In our case, we have to say ‘no’ because of the sensitive nature of our data. The Heroku engineers are always very respectful of that, even though it makes their job more difficult.”

The Moneytree team also implemented Salesforce Sales Cloud in August 2017.

“We went from Excel-based lead tracking to actually building funnels with Salesforce,” says Zach Taub, Chief of Marketing at Moneytree. “That was huge for us. We can now score leads and build timelines in order to follow up on leads much more effectively.”

While the company is in the early days of managing its lead pipeline “we are already seeing a huge change in workflow and how we view our lead-generation investment,” says Taub.

Moneytree deployed Sales Cloud leading up to three major networking events. Participation in these events came with a hefty five-figure price tag, so to optimise the return on that investment was a priority.

“The way to do that is to make sure we are tracking those leads in a managed approach,” says Taub. “That’s where we’ve already seen the value of Sales Cloud.”

The consumer-facing personal finance app is really only the beginning for Moneytree. The company has announced a partnership with Salesforce Japan in order to open its API data to a wide range of wealth management firms via Financial Services Cloud. The move offers the potential for Moneytree to significantly shake up the wider financial services industry.

“The challenge for financial advisors is to maintain financial information for all their clients’ portfolios,” says Makdad. “Traditionally, the only way for a financial advisor to obtain that information was through conversations with their clients. A partnership with Salesforce means that financial advisors could use Financial Services Cloud to access their customers’ real-time financial data through the Moneytree API.”

Makdad believes this will eliminate the need for financial advisors to trawl through their clients’ static bank statements, or rely on their clients to provide accurate data about their spending habits. Instead, financial advisors would have access to all their clients’ real-time financial data at their fingertips.

Maintaining data privacy is also a high priority for Moneytree, and all users must provide specific approvals before the company will access or share their financial data with authorised enterprise customers such as financial advisors and banks.

“In order to provide real value, a financial advisor needs reliable data. Moneytree is about bringing consumers, small businesses and financial services institutions closer together by getting the right information to the right people in real time – while maintaining best-practice data privacy for our customers.”

 

We went from Excel-based lead tracking to actually building funnels with Salesforce. We can now score leads and build timelines in order to follow up on leads much more effectively.”

Zach Taub, Chief of Marketing

The future is bright for Moneytree as the team seeks to replicate its success in the Japanese market with international expansion. That requires a culture of diversity, inclusion and innovation that the company is actively embracing.

“We are building a platform that requires us to be flexible and have allowances for different ways of thinking, new approaches and new technologies,” says Taub. “Half of our team is Japanese and the other half is comprised of 13 different nationalities. Having a diverse workforce will help us to compete on a global scale.”

Moneytree launched in Australia in mid 2017 and is using Heroku Private Spaces, which enables the company to comply with Australian laws that require service providers to hold customer data inside the country.

“Heroku has made launching in Australia very, very easy for us,” says Makdad. “We have done the hard work on our systems, so now as new leads develop and we prove the Moneytree model in Australia, we really think that’s going to be a jumping-off point to other markets.”

Moneytree is also focused on further product development as the company seeks to evolve its user experience in both Japanese and Australian markets.

“We are expanding our user-facing capabilities into new platforms and are looking to bring more fully-featured products to everyone, everywhere. This will be a big year for us to mature and grow into the global business we aspire to become.”

 
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