Mobile expense tracker Lemon launched in October with a simple way for people to track their expenses by taking pictures of their receipts using their phones. The service has proven pretty popular with 1 million users signing up in less than four months. Now, the company is looking to go beyond just receipt storage into Mint (s intu) territory with a new update that helps categorize, filter and total up spending.
Previously, Lemon was more of a Dropbox for receipts. Users took pictures of their receipts or took email receipts and forwarded them to their Lemon.com email address. Lemon extracts data from the receipts about the merchant and product making it easy for people to track their spending. But now, with Lemon 3.0, users can have their purchases organized by category, so they can better see where their money is going to. They can also get a summary of labeled items and a daily spend linear graph. There’s also new ability to sort and filter transactions and a family plan, so up to 10 members of one family can pool their receipts to see how the whole household is spending collectively. A Lemon app is available for iOS (s aapl), Android (s goog), BlackBerry (s rimm), Windows Phone (s msft) and Symbian (s nok).
The basic service is free to scan an unlimited number of receipts, get a summary of spending and export receipts and data. A premium data plan, which provides additional features to track spending, taxes and gain more complete records, is $9 a month, or $50 a year. The family plan starts at $3 per month or $20 for a year. And a $4 a month business plan for companies is also on the way.
Wences Casares, the founder and CEO of Lemon said the latest update gives users more tools to track their overall spending. He said over time, Lemon will also add budgeting features, taking Lemon even further into Mint territory. But he said Lemon is not aiming for the same base of users.
“We see Mint as a service for people who are serious about about personal finances. We want to appeal to customers who are more casual about finances because most people don’t have the time or discipline to dig into receipts,” Casares said.
What I like about Lemon is that it’s good for tracking cash transactions. While services such as Mint can automatically connect to checking and credit accounts, users have to manually enter their cash payments. With Lemon, they can make sure all those little payments here and there are accounted for. That is, if they remember to take a picture of a receipt. But with the way Lemon is set up, it’s designed to make it easy to do that.
Users may balk at the pricing of the premium plans. And some users have complained of bugs and a more cluttered UI with the latest update. But many are finding it’s a good way to keep on top of their spending. I think this is helpful to avoid the clutter of receipts in my wallet, though it takes some discipline to keep snapping pictures of receipts. But when you do, there’s that nice feeling of throwing away some excess paper and knowing you’ve got the data in the cloud.