January 2018 — Atlanta has recently been promoting itself as the global fintech capital, and rightfully so. The fintech sector generates approximately $72 billion in annual revenue for Georgia. Nearly 70 percent of all U.S. transactions are processed through a Georgia-based company, and 60 percent of all payment-processing companies are headquartered in or have operations in Georgia. Additionally, about 100 fintech companies operate in Georgia, including 6 of the 10 largest U.S. payment-processing firms.
With the pool of well-educated graduates from renowned local universities like Georgia Tech, University of Georgia and Georgia State, the industry gains a significant advantage for continued growth in Atlanta.
Focus: Atlanta spoke with a number of business leaders in the banking, finance and technology industries to get their insights on the booming fintech industry. Here is what they said:

Joe Brannen, CEO, Georgia Bankers Association

“We see money flowing into fintech, and we saw people thinking that this was going to disrupt our industry. A lot of money is going into these types of companies, but we have access to the customers. We have spent hundreds of years building a customer basis. The fintech companies developed something but have to find customers. The fintech companies that are now beginning to partner with banks are the ones that seem to be performing the best. There aren’t many Amazons out there, and the successful ones are able to do things smarter, better and faster. Banking is not a new product; it is just a new way of doing things.”

Jenna Kelly, President & CEO of Atlanta Division, SunTrust Bank

“Fintech is something that all banks are paying attention to because it is important to invest in the future. All banks are working out how to better deliver services to clients, so fintech plays a big role in that. It isn’t simply big payment processors; there are a lot of companies that make up the sector that have some innovative ideas, and SunTrust is also involved in this sphere. We were one of the first to develop a consumer online lending platform, called LightStream. It has issued about $5 billion in loans since it started in 2013.”

Cynthia Day, President & CEO, Citizens Trust Bank

“With rapid changes in technology, there are opportunities to explore valuable partnerships with fintech companies. We are keenly aware of how our local and global economies are becoming increasingly driven by rapid decisions and efficient delivery of services. Our ability to deliver financial solutions to our customers through technology creates a win-win for our customers, for developing partnerships and for the economics of our city.”

Eddie Meyers, Regional President of Georgia, PNC Financial Services Group

“Branches still matter, but 60 percent of PNC clients are using financial technology these days, compared to 39 percent four years ago. Many young professionals no longer have a need for retail branches and rely on technology for their banking needs. Our goal it is to make sure we offer the technology, service and convenience to help simplify their lives.”

Barry Mccarthy, Executive Vice President, Head of Network and Security Solutions at First Data, Chairman of FinTech Atlanta

“Very quietly over the past several years, Atlanta has become the global fintech capital. To be clear, Atlanta isn’t the financial services global capital — London and New York share that recognition. However, for fintech specifically, there is nowhere else like Atlanta.”

Allen Maines, Executive Partner, Holland & Knight

“If you’re in the fintech business and you want talented people to run your company, you need to go where the talented people live. Atlanta is home to the largest payment processors in the world and also some of the largest data aggregators. There is a healthy pool of trained people working directly in these industries, but there is also a great deal of related activity.”

Scott Meyerhoff, COO, Incomm

There are three main factors in Atlanta that help with the growth of fintech. One is government support on a state, county and city level. The second is talented workforce. We are blessed to have a number of fantastic universities that feed us with great talent on the technology side and the low cost of living in comparison to other technology hubs. This helps tremendously with talent retention. The third is the entrepreneurial spirit of the people in Atlanta. If you want to exist here, you have to be willing to contribute. The spirit of creation is alive, and with the support of the government, a good workforce and access to the rest of the country, this is a good place to create.”

To find out more about our interviewees above, visit their websites at:

Georgia Bankers Association: https://www.gabankers.com

SunTrust Bank: https://www.suntrust.com

Citizens Trust Bank: https://ctbconnect.com

PNC Financial Services Group: https://www.pnc.com/en/about-pnc.html

First Data: https://www.firstdata.com/en_us/home.html

Holland & Knight: https://www.hklaw.com

Incomm: http://www.incomm.com/Pages/default.aspx