Atlanta is a hotbed for young fintech companies that are putting down roots and growing. From start-ups to organizations looking to expand their reach from Europe to the U.S., Atlanta is a thriving market.
“Smaller fintechs are of great value and tremendous idea stimulators. They all start from the same school of thought—a market problem has been identified and they are figuring out how to create a solution that solves the problem for the customer or the consumer. It isn’t necessarily about creating a technology, but rather about solving a problem,” says Bruce Lowthers, co-chief operating officer of financial technology company FIS, chair of ATPC and chair of the P20 conference. “In London and Atlanta there has been and continues to be a culture of organizations doing this. Just like in my start-up days, there was a sense of community seeing peers and colleagues around town making things happen, launching new ideas and solving problems, and making a difference.”
These young companies are supported by initiatives such as FinTech Atlanta which hosted an “Innovation Alley” and awarded $50,000 to a start up at its recent FinTech South event. P20 is also focused on boosting early stage fintechs and will be bringing a group together at its October conference to exchange ideas and learn from more established organizations, including those based in the U.K., which is known for its fintech-friendly “sandboxes.”
“In the U.K., if you have a young fintech the government gives you room to explore and grow before they regulate you. They allow you to innovate without taking a hammer and hitting you with regulatory rules while the company is tender and can’t handle it,” says H. West Richards, founder of P20 and executive director of ATPC. “This is something we are promoting in the U.S. so this will be a topic that will be discussed and explored at the conference.”
The Department for International Trade, the commercial arm of the U.K.’s Foreign Office, works with U.K.-based businesses to help them succeed in international markets. Kristen Hirst, vice consul of trade and investment, says when U.K. companies set their sights on the U.S., Atlanta competes with markets like New York. The DIT has been working closely with P20 to bring over growing fintech companies to the October conference so they can see how the payments ecosystem works in Atlanta.
“If you look at the recent U.K. companies that have set up in Atlanta, the most recent one is PPRO, they are one of the fastest growing U.K. fintechs and they chose Atlanta for their operation,” Hirst says. “In the work that I do, we are really interested in helping those growing British fintechs look at Atlanta when they look at the U.S. At the next P20 conference in October, we want to bring a number of companies over and give them an audience with the big players.”
FeatureSpace, a leader in Adaptive Behavioral Analytics with offices in Cambridge and London, U.K., recently set up shop in midtown Atlanta. The company is the creator of the ARIC platform, a real-time, machine learning software system developed out of the University of Cambridge that has been deployed to organizations in more than 180 countries. Its clients include Atlanta-based payments processor TSYS, which wanted to integrate a machine learning fraud solution into their platform.
“Partnering with Featurespace allowed us to quickly bring an innovative new fraud solution to our clients. This would have been very challenging to do without their core functionality—a machine-learning platform,” says Justin Griggs, group executive in strategy and commercialization and global product and innovation at TSYS. “TSYS Foresight ScoreSM with Featurespace is a great example, where an established payments company and a young fintech company combined powers to address a market need that would have been difficult for either company to address independently.”
Fledgling fintechs are driving innovation in the market by developing new and fresh ideas and partnering with established organizations, such as TSYS, to bring these emerging technologies to market. P20 is aimed at encouraging these partnerships and the growth of young start-ups through its annual conference.
“For young companies to succeed, they must have access to buyers and the P20 is designed to allow innovators access to potential buyers and buyers access to innovation,” Griggs says. “The P20 strives to incorporate fresh new ideas with existing solutions in an effort to bring new products to market faster. It is critical that young-stage startups have strategic guidance available to succeed. The networking opportunities and the content available will easily make the P20 one of the most significant events available for young start-ups.”