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Metro Atlanta leaders are trying to bring more attention — and capital — to a growing sector of area business: financial technology.
To that end, in September, the Metro Atlanta Chamber and the American Transaction Processors Coalition (ATPC) launched the FinTech Task Force “to develop a strategy to grow and sustain the financial technology, or FinTech, industry in metro Atlanta.”
Worldpay US President and CEO Tony Catalfano, who is also chair of ATPC, will lead the effort. The chamber reported the FinTech Task Force is modeled after it’s Mobility Task Force, which aims to make metro Atlanta a global hub for mobile technology.
Hala Moddelmog, president and CEO of the Metro Atlanta Chamber, said FinTech is a rapidly growing industry in our region, which mirrors the growth of the mobility industry.
“In just a few short years, we have seen big things come out of our mobility ecosystem, including adding more than 4,000 jobs and opening new innovation centers,” she said. “We want to build on those successes and continue this momentum for FinTech.”
The chamber and ATPC said the FinTech Task Force will have three main goals: attract and grow companies in the FinTech industry; develop a skilled workforce and grow innovation.
Catalfano said the chamber and business leaders came together and did an outstanding job of dramatically raising the profile of Atlanta as a center of mobility excellence.
“As a result, it was named one of the few mobility centers of excellence around the world,” he said. “It brought more attention, capital, and jobs to Atlanta as a center of excellence.”
Catalfano added the chamber, ATPC, and the Technology Association of Georgia (TAG) came together to raise the profile of Georgia and greater Atlanta as a FinTech hub and payment center of excellence. “The idea came together from those three to unite and did the same thing for payments and FinTech that was done for mobility, which is to bring business leaders together, dramatically further raise the profile and get our story out and then focus on things we can do to promote further innovation, further investment and further job creation in this area focused around our existing FinTech expertise.”
Tino Mantella, president and CEO of TAG, said TAG has been an early adopter to the FinTech space in terms of seeing a need to create a focus on FinTech.
“We think if you put various groups together to focus in a collaborative way you’re going to have more of an impact than any one of us can do on our own,” he said. “Creating a collaborative spirit that is going to call attention to the industry, drive the industry and protect the industry is all extremely important to us.”
Catalfano noted with the companies that are moving to the metro area there is a need to focus on growing talent, especially strong technical talent, which is the “fuel to the industry.”
“There is a lot more that needs to be done to attract talent,” he said. “Technical talent is what drives the innovation in this space.”
Catalfano said he is confident more capital will come to the area but more needs to be done. “There is a lot of capital that is being invested in how to continue to change the business processes around financial services,” he said. “I think we need to do a much better job getting more and more of that coming to Atlanta.”
Catalfano said while speaking at Invest Atlanta this year, he was encouraged by the number of venture capitalists he saw in the room. But, Catalfano said it’s going to take numerous coalitions and chambers and groups to come together to take this FinTech to the next level. “It’s exciting that MAC, ATPC and Georgia Tech have come together and joined forces to take what happened for mobility to the next step and do that for FinTech,” he said. “I think its exciting that within a couple of years not only have we gotten the word out (about the strength of the FinTech industry in Georgia) but we’ve gotten multiple powerhouses in this area together and they’ve taken the challenge to really help grow our industry.”
H. West Richards, executive director of ATPC, said while ATPC’s mission is government relations-driven, focused on raising the profile of “Transaction Alley,” a nickname given to the metro area because 70 percent of U.S. transactions go through Georgia, according to ATPC. The center’s mission is also economic development around the payments industry, which was grappling with two issues: workforce development and innovation.
“We decided we need to have an outreach at the state level and local level with those politicians to see if we could work together to build some incentives to not only help retain these companies here in Georgia, but build a better business environment by helping solve those two problems (workforce development and innovation),” Richards said. “So we engaged the governor, the General Assembly and the Atlanta mayor and have been making terrific progress there.”