Australian fintech Zeller raises $6.3m to reimagine business banking
Former Square executives, Ben Pfisterer and Dominic Yap have unveiled a new company focused on offering a true alternative to business banking. Based in Melbourne, Zeller will provide an integrated payments and financial services solution for growing businesses, and is backed with $6.3 million in seed funding led by Square Peg.
Zeller will bring together the best of modern payments and digital financial services to help Australian businesses get paid, access their money, and manage their finances faster and simpler than they can today. Once launched, Zeller will offer a complete payment solution for those ready to start new ventures now, as well as owners and entrepreneurs looking to grow their businesses.
“Business banking in Australia is broken,” said Ben Pfisterer, Zeller co-founder and CEO. “The fact there’s only been a small number of incumbents with similar offerings for such a long time, has meant there’s limited competition, which has effectively kept a lid on innovation. This has led to really poor outcomes and held Australian businesses back.”
“It takes days or weeks to get set up with a business bank account, pricing models are opaque, innovation is relatively non-existent and in-person payment solutions have been left in the past. These are really important, as — despite the growth in ecommerce, which now accounts for 33 percent of sales — in-person payments remain dominant at 67 percent and growing, as we see an acceleration towards a cashless economy. Current banking and payment solutions are clunky and unfriendly, which means they actually get in the way of the running and growing a business. At Zeller we will deploy innovative solutions that are easy to set up, and will help businesses simplify how they accept payments and manage their cash flow.”
Expected to bring its first product to market in the first quarter of 2021, Zeller will significantly improve the time it takes businesses to set up and get going, reducing it from weeks to just minutes.
By enabling simple onboarding for accounts, payments and cards, businesses can spend less time getting set up and more time on the important stuff. Zeller offers an all-in-one solution, aligning essential business products and services for owners, simplifying operations, through the integration of multiple services in one place.
“You never see more entrepreneurialism than after major crises. After the GFC, we saw a huge number of businesses being formed in Australia. Due to COVID-19 and the associated downturn, there are a lot of businesses struggling, yet as the economy picks up again, it’s likely we’ll soon have a wave of new ventures starting out, resulting in unprecedented growth. We need to ensure they aren’t put off by financial services models that aren’t fit to serve them. These businesses need technology that helps them set up quickly, scale and thrive. They also need innovative solutions which help them efficiently manage the move towards cashless payments and digital banking” said Pfisterer. “Beyond that, now more than ever, cash flow is imperative for businesses, and they need to be more cost-conscious than ever. They’re looking for better, more efficient, digital ways to run their operations that, frankly, don’t exist in the market yet.
“As well as improving the shortcomings of current business solutions, we are looking forward to deploying innovation that delivers on the promise that payments should be more than a basic numerical transaction. The interaction between a buyer and a seller is starting to rapidly evolve, and we believe that the experience should be so much more than just a monetary exchange.”
The funding round was led by prominent venture capital firm Square Peg which has previously invested in Stripe, Airwallex, Prospa and Athena. Apex Capital, which has previously invested in BetaShares and Athena, also participated in the round.
Square Peg co-founder and partner, Paul Bassat, will join the Zeller board.
“Zeller has a really ambitious mission that we’re excited to get behind,” Bassat said. “Incumbents in this industry aren’t customer-centric enough, as they are incentivised to focus on cross-selling other products. Zeller is different.
“Ben, Dom and the team have the ability to disrupt the industry, to scale something from scratch and surround themselves with a super talented team to go after their vision – we are already seeing this dynamic play out in some of the early hires they’ve made. In our view, this combination is critical to success in disrupting the financial services industry and has been a feature of previous teams we’ve backed in the space. This gave us the conviction to invest close to day one.”
Zeller CEO Ben Pfisterer and COO Dominic Yap have significant experience shaking up age-old industries following Pfisterer’s time leading the APAC Square team. Prior to Square, Pfisterer held several leadership roles at Visa, NAB and JetStar; while Yap worked with PwC and other consulting firms.
Joining the Zeller team are Head of Front End, David Conn, who has previously led payments infrastructure teams for some of Australia’s biggest banks; and Head of Back End, Alfred Wong, who has held several CIO and CTO roles in financial services and payments businesses.
“We’ve built a team that’s going to bring significant – long-needed – changes to the way that businesses receive, access, and manage their money,” Pfisterer said.