Jessica Ellerm is a thought leader specializing in Small Business and the Gig Economy and is the CEO and Co-Founder of Zuper, a neowealth disruptor in Australia
Business banking hasn’t had a lot of competition in Australia.
That is set to change, with news a former Square, Visa and NAB executive is set to launch a new offering for Australian SMEs, Zeller.
The business will reportedly help SMEs streamline business bank account opening, payments and cash flow management, however it will not pursue its own banking licence in the foreseeable future, taking a leaf out of local consumer neobanking startup Up.
Zeller is wading into the business banking market just as a seismic shift in payments behaviour is taking place – the move to a germ-free, cashless society. No doubt it hopes to capitalise on the new challenges this will bring merchants who have traditionally been slow to ditch hard currency.
The news comes as Australia’s largest business bank, National Australia Bank, ramps up efforts to bridge its own technology gaps, hiring Canadian heavyweight Andrew Irvine to run its business division. Ironically, for Zeller, Irvine has been touted as having helped develop a platform specifically aimed at helping his former employer, the Bank of Montreal, better understand their customers cashflow.
The Zeller announcement will have NAB on alert. It has seen a large outflow of senior executives to start up business bank Judo, one of the most notable new banks competing aggressively in the space. Keeping talent in the building to deliver on its technology strategy will be key.
All that aside, the road ahead won’t be easy for startups or existing players targeting businesses as customers. While Australia has mainly avoided mass COVID driven lockdowns, new flare ups in various states have forced multiple suburbs back into lockdown, border to re-close and many businesses, who had only just opened their doors, have found their doors forced close again, or lumped with severe trading restrictions. In addition, Australians are slowly tightening their wallets, and there is the chill of recession in the air.
Whatever the case – margins are under pressure across the board, and technology is a strategy everyone should be banking on.
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