Focus on Fintech
The growth of the payments industry in Atlanta has generated the creation of organizations and events to support, educate and drive the industry forward. Since it was formed in 2013, the American Transaction Processors Coalition (ATPC) has not only served as a voice for the industry in government, but also a booster of Atlanta as a place to do business. By teaming up with the Technology Association of Georgia (TAG) and the Metro Atlanta Chamber to form FinTech Atlanta, under the leadership of Barry McCarthy, EVP-Network and Security Solutions for First Data, FinTech Atlanta has become the largest, industry-backed, economic development platform in the state of Georgia.
“It’s an exciting time for Atlanta which is in growth mode as really being a world class hub for innovation,” says Larry Williams, president and CEO of TAG, the largest state technology association in the country. “We came together with ATPC to help form an initiative named FinTech Atlanta …What we wanted to do collectively is really put a global spotlight on Atlanta as the fintech center that it is.”
One of these events helping showcase Atlanta is FinTech South, a two-day conference that took place May 7 and 8 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Growing out of TAG’s 8-years-running FinTech Symposium, FinTech South’s first annual event attracted more than 1,500 attendees who gathered to participate in panel discussions, innovation spotlights and break-out sessions covering topics such as security, regulations, block chain and cryptocurrency, A.I., big data and more.
“FinTech South looks forward to what is new and what is next, what is going to be coming down the pipe to completely disrupt what we are doing in payment transactions and fintech,” Williams says. “This intersection with all these things and how it impacts the customer experience is absolutely critical and what all the companies are thirsty to learn more about.”
FinTech South also served as a “road show” for Money 20/20 USA, the leading fintech conference globally with nearly 12,000 attendees at the last event in October 2017, where speakers included Apple Co-Founder Steve Wozniak and PayPal CEO Dan Schulman.
“We don’t see FinTech South as competitive to what we do, we see it as a way to reach out to the Atlanta and Georgia community. If you look at the attendance at Money 20/20, California is No. 1, New York is No. 2, Georgia is No. 3,” says Andrew Morris, a former payments industry consultant who is now chief content officer for Money 20/20 USA and content chair for the FinTech South conference. “Only California, with Silicon Valley, and New York with a lot of banking surpasses Georgia—there is always a strong delegation that comes to Las Vegas in October for Money 20/20.”Along with helping inspire the growth of FinTech South, ATPC encouraged the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta to create Peach Pay, a payments industry council. Convened in June 2015 through the Fed’s Retail Payments Risk Forum group, the council is comprised of key players in the U.S. payments processing ecosystem who come together several times annually to share information about best practices, provide education, discuss new product innovation and discuss regulatory and policy issues that may impact the payments industry.
ATPC’s Cyber-FORUM is another way the organization is planning for the future. The national security platform Cyber-FORUM is aimed at safeguarding the fiber resiliency of the Georgia payments grid, where more than 70 percent of all credit, debit, gift and prepaid card transactions in the U.S. are processed. The first Cyber-FORUM, hosted by ATPC and members of the United States Senate Payments Innovation Caucus took place in May 2017. Cybersecurity experts from both the public and private sectors gathered to discuss the protection of cybersecurity of federal networks and critical infrastructure in a program, titled “Exploring Payments Resiliency in Transaction Alley.”
“Transaction Alley is a global center of gravity for fintech and the payments industry. Our payments companies and the products and services they provide are the life’s blood of our economy,” says H. West Richards, ATPC’s executive director. “But the ingenuity and determination of those who would disrupt—and even destroy—that system is boundless. At Cyber-FORUM, we examined our industry’s challenges and discussed the next critical steps needed from both the public and private sectors to assure that cyber attackers cannot succeed. Since our launch in May of 2017 we have made significant progress in shaping this very important National Security platform.”
Along with FinTech South and all the other initiatives growing up around the financial technology industry in Atlanta, the P20 conference in October is poised to further strengthen the ties that bind the payments industry together and set the stage for a stable and secure future going forward.
“P20 puts us on the world stage of financial services in a way that has not been done before,” Richards says.