Transaction Alley: The Name Atlanta Earned After 100+ Years of Payments and Financial Technology advancements
(Atlanta) – Many of the world’s leaders in financial technology and payments processing are scheduled to appear at the historic P20 Atlanta conference in October, a gathering that punctuates the city’s more than century-long history of growth and development in the realm of financial technology (FinTech).
Much of that growth has taken place in the last decade, with dozens of payments processors and FinTech companies choosing to expand, re-locate, or start operations in Atlanta and throughout Georgia.
“Most people have no idea that over the last decade, very quietly Atlanta has taken the top spot in having the highest concentration of FinTech companies anywhere on the planet,” said Barry McCarthy, Executive Vice President and Head of Network and Security Solutions at First Data.
McCarthy, along with other industry leaders, has helped shape the FinTech landscape in Atlanta, allowing for such massive growth. More than 60 percent of FinTech and payments processing companies in the United States call Georgia home.
Of all the payment transactions taking place each day across America, more than 70 percent are processed by companies in Atlanta and around Georgia. That statistic has helped garner Atlanta the nickname “Transaction Alley.”
The seeds for that growth trace back to 1914, when the Federal Reserve opened its Atlanta bank. That bank became an economic anchor for the region, and would begin experimenting with wire transfers in the mid 20th century.
“You can link it back to the late 1950s, when Georgia was doing a lot of the paper processing for the credit card industry,” said P20 Founder and President H. West Richards.
Richards has advocated for Atlanta’s FinTech industry from London, to Washington, D.C., and around the world. He says Atlanta has fueled the payments technology boom for decades.
“Atlanta had a strong labor force that was focused on the payments industry,” said Richards. “Someone had the bright idea that these things called computers could maybe process these transactions better than what was being done on paper.”
Leaders with the city’s chamber of commerce have long seen the potential for growth via FinTech, and now consider it one of the strongest selling points for the city and region.
“In the late 80s, early 90s, when fiber was being laid out in this country, Atlanta was one of the early infrastructure systems for fiber,” said Grant Wainscott of the Metro Atlanta Chamber.
“It allowed this incredible corridor we call Transaction Alley to be developed.”
The advocacy from people like Wainscott and Richards has filtered across the Atlantic Ocean, building on the strong relationship between Atlanta and London. Some of the United Kingdom’s top leaders in FinTech now see Atlanta as a critical partner.
“One of the things I never realized was that 70% of payments is based in Atlanta, it goes through Atlanta,” said Alastair Lukies CBE, the U.K. Prime Minister’s Ambassador for FinTech.
“Atlanta, people call Transaction Alley, has this really steeped history in the payments industry.”
With that distinguished history in payments processing and FinTech development, Atlanta is prepared to take the spotlight in October as the host of the 2018 P20 summit. More than 200 of the leading minds in payments, along with regulators and legislators, will be in attendance, working to improve how people around the world make, and receive, payments.