International P20 Conference Harnesses Leadership for Atlanta’s Payments Industry
Atlanta’s payments and fintech sector provides more than 400,000 jobs and generates more than $72 billion in annual revenue. But the industry is arguably facing the most rapid technological and regulatory changes of any field. How are Atlanta’s fintech companies responding to the threats and opportunities?
Already dubbed “Transaction Alley” – with 70 percent of the nation’s payment transactions flowing through Atlanta companies – the city hosted the second annual P20 Conference this month. An international contingent of some 150 payments and fintech industry leaders from the U.S., U.K., Canada, Brazil and China participated. In addition, more than 50 government leaders from the U.S., U.K. and Canada gathered to collaborate with these companies to explore opportunities and challenges the industry is embracing.
A number of heavy hitters spoke at the conference including Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, former U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron, Antony Phillipson, British consul general of New York and trade commissioner for North America, Andrew Staunton, British consul general of Atlanta, Alastair Lukies, U.K. Prime Minister’s Global Ambassador for Fintech, Nadia Theordore, Consul General of Canada, Kipp Kranbuhl, Acting Assistant Secretary for Financial Services- U.S. Department of Treasury, Michael D’Ambrosio, Deputy Assistant Director of the U.S. Secret Service and Pat Wilson, Commissoner of Economic Development, Georgia.
The P20 forum, which alternates between London and Atlanta, focuses on moving the payments industry forward across four pillars: cyber security, regulatory clarity, fintech innovation and better access to payments around the globe. This year’s event not only showcased the region’s FinTech muscle, it also covered a lot of ground, including:
- Cyber war games event: For the first time, more than a dozen major payment companies from the U.S., U.K., Canada and Brazil participated in a cyber war games exercise at the IBM X-Force Command Center in Cambridge, Mass. – the results were revealed in Atlanta during the conference. This realistic exercise involved exposure to live malware extracted from the dark web and laid groundwork for the industry to operate as one team against a systemic attack on multiple companies. Security experts collaborated on measuring and improving their response time, regulatory and media plans of action, and incident management and response. This event is part of P20’s ongoing industry effort to combat cyber enemies.
- The first-ever FinTech Academy: How Georgia is spurring fintech talent to drive the economy: Nearly 40,000 Georgians are employed by the payments/fintech industry, but 80 percent of the market reports having trouble finding the talent it needs. Enter Georgia’s innovative FinTech Academy, which aims to fill the talent pipeline with 5,000 fintech-ready professionals in the next three years. Based on extensive research from academics and employers, this state-wide academy (across 26 educational institutions) has a hub at Georgia State University’s Robinson College of Business plus extensive online programs. Students can pursue degrees, apprenticeships, continuing education and boot camps. The conference highlighted the academy and demonstrated how it will be a model for others around the globe.
- “Open banking:” How open is the U.S.? Throughout the conference, industry experts discussed the current state of open banking and how the EU is moving ahead of the U.S. with the U.K enacting it last January. Open banking is a secure way for consumers to share their bank information with other companies they want to give access to, in exchange for competitive offerings of financial products and services. Some experts, however, believe that security and regulatory questions still need to be sorted out. It operates via bank APIs – application programming interfaces – that could transform how consumers interact with their financial institutions. The question of when open banking will come to the U.S – more so than if – is important to P20 for the industry and consumers.
Designed to be the “Davos of Payments,” P20 will continue to bring together top global executives in payments technology, business and government – to help advance the industry in Atlanta – and to make payments more accessible, affordable and secure worldwide.
H. West Richards, P20 president and founder
Bruce Lowthers, P20 chairman; FIS, chief operating officer