Mobile wallet startup Lemon released Lemon Network today in an effort to create a vibrant ecosystem for mobile payments.
Merchants join Lemon Network through a free software development kit (SDK). Implementing the software puts a Lemon button at the checkout site that, for Lemon users, means one-touch payments.
Lemon is a popular application that lets you store all your credit cards, loyalty cards, identification, and other similar information in your phone. It has useful tools for saving receipts, creating expense reports, monitoring accounts and balance updates, and security and card expiration alerts. Lemon does not process payments offline or in stores, but it’s useful should you lose your wallet or feel too lazy to hunt down your credit card while online shopping from your couch.
The company is going a step further now by adding merchants into the network. Tapping the Lemon button at checkout will send the customer’s payment information securely to the merchant for processing. Merchants can communicate with their customers about billing inquiries and questionable transactions through Lemon.
“Checkout on mobile sucks,” said chief sales officer Jenna Wyer in an interview with VentureBeat. “We are focused on making mobile payments easier for consumers and it is a natural evolution to start partnering with merchants. There are so many obstacles to facilitating an easy mobile checkout experience. Lemon Network will help businesses simplify their checkout process, so they can acquire new customers and support their existing ones.”
Wyer was a founding member of payments company Braintree, which provides a payment gateway to help businesses quickly and easily accept credit cards online. It enables payments for 40 million consumers, works with over 4,000 merchants, and now processes $10 billion in payments. Wyer left Braintree to work for Lemon because she wanted to move on to “the next best startup” working to make payments easier.
Payments (and mobile payments) is a highly competitive market. Braintree, PayPal, Google, Square, and MasterCard all have digital wallet products, but consumers don’t really use them. People may be shopping on their phones more tun ever before, but conversion rates on mobile remain stubbornly low. The main challenge is to create a process that is as convenient, if not more so, than other methods.
Another challenge with mobile payments is achieving that critical mass of consumers and merchants. Lemon may not have the same resources or customer/merchant base as competitors, but Wyer said that Lemon is “platform agnostic” and can easily accommodate different currencies and payment processors gives the company an edge. It plans to expand quickly into Latin America, Europe, and Asia. A lot of growth in mobile payments is happening outside the U.S., and Lemon sees this as an opportunity. Lemon currently has 3 million customers using the wallet, with thousands of cards being added every day.
Lemon has raised $8 million from Maveron, Lightspeed Venture Partners, and Draper Fisher Jurveston. It is based in Palo Alto.