Wednesday, April 13, 2016
One of America's fastest growing cities, Atlanta, is becoming known for its high concentration of payments industry companies. Transaction Alley, the city's unofficial moniker, is home to more than half of all U.S. technology firms, and processes approximately 70 percent of all payment card transactions.
In his keynote address at the annual Technology Association of Georgia Fintech Conference held in February 2016, TAG President Tino Mantella told 500 attendees to expect more innovation as Transaction Alley gains traction and continues to attract talent and capital. TAG is Georgia's leading technology industry association, serving more than 30,000 members through its regional chapters in Atlanta, Athens, Augusta, Columbus, Macon and Savannah.
"We see Atlanta as the epicenter of payments," said Claire Kelly, President at Atlanta-based Gemstone Payments & Technology. "It's why we chose to headquarter here, in this vibrant community of payments industry leaders and startups."
TAG's 2016 annual report, State of Georgia's Fintech Ecosystem 2016: Driven by Innovation, Proven by Performance, written by the TAG FinTech Society in coordination with Georgia Tech and Raymond James, found evidence that fintech innovation originating in Georgia is impacting numerous facets of financial services.
The authors cited local firms Kabbage Inc., PrimeRevenue Inc., BitPay Inc. and Equifax Inc. as examples, stating, "It is not only startups and small companies that are driving innovation in Georgia; large, established companies headquartered in Georgia are innovating just as quickly. "Well over half of the $5.3 trillion in annual US card spending runs across the rails of Georgia-based firms, with three of the top five and six of the top ten of these processors headquartered in Metro Atlanta. These are firms like First Data, Global Payments, TSYS, Worldpay and Elavon that issue debit/credit cards on behalf of banks, service the merchants that accept card payments, and route the transactions to and from payment networks like Visa and MasterCard."
The authors estimated $118 billion worldwide payment transactions pass through the computer systems of Georgia-based fintech companies, with revenue contributions of $72 billion by the top 50 Georgia fintech companies, and overall value of U.S. purchase volume of $2 trillion by Georgia FinTech companies. These findings are based on 2014 statistics provided by The Nilson Report.
The TAG report raised concerns about attracting sufficient investor capital. "In spite of the many successful Georgia FinTech companies, one big challenge and shortcoming in Georgia as compared to Silicon Valley or New York is the limited venture ecosystem," the authors wrote. "The venture ecosystem includes not only angel funding for startups but also sufficient venture capital and extensive mentoring that can help scale up the startups."
The Advanced Technology Development Center is predicting a more positive near-term outlook. The university-based business incubator program, founded in 1980, has graduated more than 160 companies. The ATDC has programs in Savannah, Athens, and Augusta and is a unit of the Enterprise Innovation Institute, the chief economic development arm of the Georgia Institute of Technology.
In 2015, Worldpay provided a $1 million grant to the ATDC to help fund fintech innovation. As a result of the Worldpay ATDC collaboration, eight ADTC startups have reportedly raised more than $16.8 million in funding, and several, including Split, Freeing Returns and aFundia, have been shortlisted in 2016 fintech competitions.
Freeing Returns, an app that simplifies and secures the consumer return process, was named a finalist in the 2016 annual Biz Launch Competition hosted by The Technology Association of Georgia, Venture Atlanta and Metro Atlanta Chamber. Split, a phone app for paying and sharing bar and restaurant tabs, won the 2016 TAG Innovation of the Year Award. Freeing Returns and alternative lending startup aFundia were also named as finalists in the TAG 2016 innovation competition.
TradeRocket, an ATDC startup focused on raising working capital in the midmarket supply chain, disclosed that Hitachi Capital America will provide up to $100 million to help it meet its goals.
Reflecting upon the accelerator program's impressive progress, Worldpay U.S. Chief Marketing Officer Sarah Arvin, said, "As leaders in modern money and through this partnership with the ATDC, we're committed to helping more disruptors disrupt and get to market faster."
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