A PayPal exec just defected to Australian fintech startup Tyro

Tyro recently expanded its payments instore. Image supplied.

Kareem Al-Bassam has worked all over the world as an expert in payment systems, including the last four years serving as general manager for PayPal in Sydney.

Now the first Australian fintech startup to receive a banking licence, Tyro, has signed him up as its new head of product.

Tyro chief executive Gerd Schenkel said that Al-Bassam is someone that’s already familiar with how a company can successfully challenge the traditional banks.

“He knows what it’s like to compete against the established banking sector using technology and an innovative customer-first approach,” he said.

“Kareem brings enormous insight, experience and vision about payments and banking from around the world. He will strengthen our leadership and management team at a time of rapid growth for Tyro.”

Schenkel himself is relatively new to his position, coming into the hot seat only in October. He also has experience in shaking up the establishment, having set up Telstra Digital and the NAB-backed UBank, which was Australia’s first digital bank.

Al-Bassam’s position was created by splitting the existing head of product and engineering position into two. Incumbent Paul Peterson becomes the new head of engineering, while Al-Bassam will lead Tyro’s development in customer-facing systems.

Al-Bassam – who has also worked for fintech firms S1 and NetSpend — said that Tyro had a unique combination of “mission, technology, culture and scale” that was poised to bring down the big banks.

“Tyro’s customer-centred approach means we can identify and address unmet needs… With its technology-driven approach, Tyro can meet those needs faster and more effectively than the traditional banks,” he said.

The startup currently serves more than 16,000 small businesses. Founder Jost Stollman is ranked number 21 in the Business Insider Tech 100 for leading the firm to a 2016 financial year that saw it harvest $95 million of revenue as a result of crunching through $8.6 billion of transactions.

Tyro also scored a major coup in August when it became the first Australian tech company to be awarded a banking licence from financial watchdog APRA. Stollmann, a former German politician, then made way for Schenkel to become CEO in October, but remains an executive director and the largest shareholder in the company.