Zeller launches small business banking solution, after 12 months of building during a global pandemic

Zeller Dominic Yap Ben Pfisterer

Zeller co-founders Dominic Yap and Ben Pfisterer. Source: supplied.

Aussie fintech Zeller has launched its solution offering a suite of financial services products designed to cater to small businesses.

Founded in March last year by former Square execs Ben Pfisterer and Dominic Yap, Zeller is designed to provide SMEs with a platform for accepting payments, a finance management system and a transaction account and business mastercard.

It’s intended to create a more modern banking solution for small businesses, that have historically been underserved by the big bank incumbents.

The launch follows a $6.3 million raise in June last year, and a huge $25 million Series A round announced in March — even before the startup had a product on the market or any revenue coming in.

While it hasn’t exactly been an easy year to start a new business, Zeller now has about 66 team members on board with the majority working from its Melbourne office.

Now, Pfisterer tells SmartCompany he’s focused firmly on the future. In Australia, with any luck, the worst COVID-19 health crisis has passed.

“We’re heading into what should be, and is already starting to be, an amazing entrepreneurial time for the Australian business community,” he says.

Zeller’s pandemic push

COVID-19 has led to a shift in the retail sector, but Pfisterer doesn’t necessarily believe the changes can be attributed purely to the pandemic.

The sector was on a trajectory already — it’s simply been accelerated.

The demise of cash, for example, has been evident for some time. However, the COVID-19 pandemic made it suddenly more important than ever for businesses not only to be able to accept card payments, but to do so in a simple, efficient and reliable way.

For many of the small businesses Zeller has been working with, being able to do more within the “payment experience” is something they’re paying close attention to.

But, innovation in retail always has two sides to it. For real, positive change to happen, both the merchant and the consumer have to benefit.

In this case, there is clear consumer demand. People are used to not carrying cash, or even physical wallets, any more.

They want efficiency and simplicity at the till, Pfisterer notes.

But, at the same time, business owners are always keeping an eye on their cost base.

“If they managed to survive through the COVID era, they’ve realised they have to be more efficient.”

Local, going global

For Pfisterer, there’s also one more thing giving the new startup an edge among Aussie SMEs. It’s a small business itself, focused — for now at least — entirely on the Aussie community.

The founders have launched a new business during a global pandemic themselves, so they know exactly what their customers are going through.

“We understand local needs and requirements,” Pfisterer explains.

“We’re a part of that.”

However, he also says this is just the beginning.

The Australian market is relatively innovative when it comes to payments technology, he says.

But all of those innovations can also apply in other markets and regions around the world.

There’s a “common narrative” all over the world, leading to more demand for products like Zeller, Pfisterer suggests.

“Everything we do keeps an eye on being able to launch into new markets.”

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