CamCard, A Card-Scanning App That’s Dominating Asian Markets, Reaches 50M Users

Posted: May 12, 2013 in Enterprise, GT, Mobile
Tags: , ,

While there’s a perennial debate on the West Coast
about whether and when business cards might
become irrelevant, they continue to be at the center
of business customs in China and Japan. It’s just basic etiquette when meeting a new contact
to offer your card with two hands and a slight bow. That’s why it’s natural that a Chinese company — not
an American one — might be able to dominate this
market and behavior globally. LinkedIn’s Cardmunch
had scanned 2 million business cards a year after
their 2011 acquisition, and hasn’t released stats
since. But Shanghai’s CamCard boasts 10 million monthly
active users, with 50 million registered in total. About
half of them are outside of China. The company is part of a new wave of Chinese
startups that are either run by very internationalized
Chinese founders or foreigners that are able to build
and design consumer products and apps with global
appeal. Intsig, the company behind CamCard, originally
launched the app back in 2009 and has quietly grown
it since. They use a freemium model that caters to both
consumers and enterprises. On the consumer side,
there’s a free version of the app. And then there’s a
paid version, which costs about $2.99 in the West or
$11.99 in Asia. It feels like price discrimination but
Intsig justifies it by saying it’s more technically different to do optical character recognition for
Chinese and Japanese and because Asian
consumers may be willing to pay more for a business
card service. The paid version has a cloud syncing service that lets
people save cards across all of their different
devices. On the enterprise side, companies pay for extra
security features to make sure their client and
business partner lists stay safe. In China, the vast
majority of smartphones are Android devices and
Chinese consumers are much more concerned about
getting viruses. As for the parent company itself, Intsig has raised
roughly $10 million from investors including Matrix
Partners in China and other local investors. The
company’s CEO Michael Zhen had a long career at
Motorola, where he says he picked up the skills and
ideas necessary to start his own company. I’ve seen one other regional competitor, Japan’s
Sansan. They’re an older rival that is transitioning to a
smartphone-centric world through a card-scanning app
called Eight. Before that, they were actually leasing
scanners to local Japanese businesses.

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