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How a 'mission impossible' drives tyro payments to change banking for small business

Michelle Legge
Business Journalist

Michelle Legge is the Smarter Business™ Digital Editor. She's the former editor of Hooroo.com by Qantas and contributes regularly to small business, social media and lifestyle publications

Michelle Legge
Business Journalist

Michelle Legge is the Smarter Business™ Digital Editor. She's the former editor of Hooroo.com by Qantas and contributes regularly to small business, social media and lifestyle publications

Tyro Payments embraced a rare opportunity to take on Big Banking in Australia by putting small business customers first.

Jost Stollmann, Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of Tyro Payments has always had a certain attraction to ‘mission impossible’.

Each day he gets to explore the impossible along with the team at Tyro Payments, Australia’s first and only bank to obtain an acquirer bank license – allowing the company to become the first new entrant into the Australian EFTPOS business in over 10 years.

The Inspiration Journey - Tyro

office space with computer desks set up

Opening the door when opportunity knocks

Tyro Payments was founded in February 2003, as a response to the Reserve Bank’s call for competition in the sector.

“It wouldn’t be possible if the Reserve Bank hadn’t, at a certain point in time, said ‘we want non-banks to compete’, and funnily enough the only ones who showed up was us,” Stollman says.

“We are the new entrant – the challenger who dares to compete with the mighty big banks. We have a lot of success in front of us, they have a lot of success behind them.”

Risk averse agility

As a relative newcomer in Australia’s Big Four dominated banking landscape, Tyro Payments is a David and Goliath story.

Setting out on an incredibly challenging business journey in an established market has made them pioneers of the industry. At the same time, they are cautious in carving out their new frontier.

“It’s all about learning and adjusting and moving in steps where you control the risk. We hire smart and investigative people. They leave their ego behind, they are proud in getting it right,” adds Stollman.

A different perspective on innovation

Tyro Payments is radical by nature, investing in new technologies as a way to get ahead, rather than as a way to keep up.

Additionally, the company recognises that there’s little sense in progress if the community is left behind. With the launch of its first EFTPOS solution, Tyro Payments decided to focus on the needs of the under-served small merchant community.

“Deep down Tyro is an inventor company – it’s all about innovation. And innovation is not so much a technology problem, it’s really a culture problem,” explains Stollman.

Lesson learnt: the first step is the hardest

Reflecting on a decade of competing in Australia’s most tightly held markets, Tyro’s path has been anything but smooth. “It took Tyro 9 years of losses to set it up, but now we are growing at a rate of 30% and are visibly delivering enough value so that small businesses can bundle their banking relationship and give us a fair go.”

“Tyro is only 11 years young, we have just started and we are serving 10,000 businesses out of potentially 2 million,” adds Stollman.

When talk of an exit comes up, Stollman is steadfast in his resolve: “Why would I take a little bit of cash off the table when I can compete with the major banks and make a real difference for the Australian business community?”

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