This is the first in a series of profiles on Australia’s leading Fintech Entrepreneurs.
CEO of Tyro Payments, Jost Stollmann, is not your everyday briefcase wielding, cappuccino sipping banking executive. In fact, until he’d stepped foot on the shores of Australia, after circumnavigating the world from his homeland of Germany, he’d never worked a day in a bank in his entire life. Fast forward 10 years however, and Stollmann is one of the driving forces behind the success of local independent eftpos provider Tyro Payments. Along with remaining founders Andrew Rothwell and Peter Haig, Stollmann has navigated the fledgling fintech company through treacherous start-up seas – from securing scarce investment in a barren early-stage funding environment, to gaining an almost impossible to acquire banking license, right through to surviving the ‘Valley of Death’ during the Global Financial Crisis.
A vocal advocate for banking reform, especially when it comes to small business, Stollmann can often be heard publicly lamenting the lack of innovation and progress made by Australia’s staid banking oligopoly. The recent Financial Systems Inquiry saw Stollmann and his team call for a ban on interchange fees, who’s meteoric rise over the past few years through the proliferation of card types, or ‘gaming of the system’ has caused immense stress on local small businesses. These fees, incorporated into the charge each merchant pays to their bank when they accept card payments, has effectively allowed credit card issuers, Australia’s major banks, to use small business to subsidise the reward programs of Australia’s top income bracket, to the tune of $300 million dollars. The very same stratospheric interchange fees on platinum and premium credit cards have also been touted as one factor in the unpopular rise of surcharging by small merchants, desperate to recover costs in order to subsidise their ever shrinking margins.
Breaking into the banking sector in Australia is certainly not for the faint-hearted. Yet Stollmann’s love affair for mission impossible has proven a handy ace up the Tyro team’s sleeve, allowing them to do just that, and turn a profit. And rather than defend his hard-fought for outcrop from other challengers, Stollmann and his team have opened up their doors and arms to the local fintech community, launching Australia’s first ever fintech hub, one floor above their Sydney CBD offices. It’s just another example of an ingrained banking culture of secrecy and smoke and mirrors that Stollmann and his team are determined to turn on its head. And while the retail banking sector in Australia remains a formidable opponent, Stollmann’s drive to continue the technology driven, small business banking success story that is Tyro Payments looks set to continue well into the future.
This is the first story in my Fintech Founders series. You can read them all here.
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