Pfisterer says Zeller and other fintechs challenge big banks to ‘lift their game’

By Leon Gettler, Talking Business >>

THE number of Australian fintechs is growing strongly.

But Ben Pfisterer, the CEO of business payment service Zeller, says more competition is needed in the business-to-business (B2B) banking industry. 

“We have got an unprecedented time with technological change at the moment and that’s just not coming through,” Mr Pfisterer told Talking Business.

“You’ve only got to look at the majority of terminals that sit on business counter tops and they are old, traditional, small screen offerings – basically a number being routed around the eco-system. They don’t do anything other than that primary function.

“We believe a lot can be done with that payment experience.”

Mr Pfisterer has a lot of experience in this space. He set up Square (now Block), the payments company, in Australia, and ran that for six years.

Zeller creates Aussie niche

He said Zeller was creating a niche in the market.

“If you look at business banking, it’s obviously tightly held by four pretty big incumbent banks and if you look at the solutions they provide, they’re pretty generic, they haven’t evolved and they still have problems,” he said.

Zeller aims to be a one-stop shop for businesses’ banking needs, according to Mr Pfisterer.

Zeller was started in 2020, and when it launched in 2021 it offered debit cards, business banking accounts and payment terminals. Now Zeller plans to also offer online payment acceptance, credit cards and expense management services.

Over time, Zeller is looking to expand into lending and become a fully licensed bank under the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA).

Mr Pfisterer said businesses needed to go through a whole bunch of processes for payment, such as setting up bank accounts and applying for a Visa or Master Card service, to get going.

“That’s a whole set of understanding rules, fees, terms and conditions, and contracts,” he said.

“That shouldn’t be the case. Every business needs these products and we should be able to offer them vastly more simply.

“We’re not talking about lending money here. There shouldn’t be this rigmarole and protracted process happening.

“We thought we could do it better. We could truncate it.

“If you look at the four majors, their solutions are incredibly similar and they haven’t changed much.”

“We believe we can do a whole lot better and hopefully we’re proving that,” Mr Pfisterer said.

Finance competition is lacking

Mr Pfisterer said with the four major banks, there was not enough competition in finance for the B2B industry.

“Whether that’s competition from lack of product or prices, it’s simply not enough,” Mr Pfisterer said.

“We hear it consistently. They don’t get the service they need. They don’t get the innovation.”

He said the major banks were not working in the area of payment services.

“What should be a simple process of accepting payments and holding money … the banks have done a goof job. Don’t get me wrong but ultimately, they’re not changing fast enough to keep up and businesses need more in today’s environment.

“There’s a whole lot of sweeping change, whether it’s Buy Now, Pay Later or accounting software,” Mr Pfisterer  said.

“All these things need to be better integrated and merged into these products. They don’t need that confusion in banking products.”


Hear the complete interview and catch up with other topical business news on Leon Gettler’s Talking Business podcast, released every Friday at



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