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Atlanta: The Silicon Valley of Financial Transactions

FinTech is one of the fastest growing industries in Atlanta. Ranked 3rd in the nation, the state has been dubbed “Transaction Alley” because more than 70 percent of U.S. credit card swipes, debit card payments and gift card purchases go through Georgia-based FinTech companies. Major industry players like TSYS, Elavon, Global Payments, Equifax, First Data, Intercontinental Exchange (which bought the New York Stock Exchange), NCR, and TransCentra call Atlanta home.

To highlight the accelerated growth of Atlanta’s FinTech community, this week’s Venture Atlanta Conference featured an All-Star FinTech panel.

If you aren’t familiar with Venture Atlanta, it’s an annual event that helps Georgia’s most promising companies find and secure early and venture stage funding. This annual conference attracts venture capitalists, angels, private equity firms, and investors from all over the country. Companies who previously pitched at Venture Atlanta have raised a cumulative total of $1.5B, with $13B in exits.

The panel kicked off with Tony Catalfano, President and CEO of Worldpay US, sharing his vision of FinTech in Atlanta.

“We’ve come together to look at how we can create the right environment here. We want to be the payment center of the universe.”

The high concentration of FinTech giants, top talent from universities, and tech startups is what attracted WorldPay US to Atlanta, and eventually led to a $1M investment in Georgia Tech’s Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC) to help develop new and innovative FinTech companies.
The panel was moderated by Rob Frohwein of Kabbage, an Atlanta FinTech company revolutionizing small business loans.

  • Tony Catalfano – President and CEO, Worldpay US, and founding chairman of the American Transaction Processors Coalition (ATPC) and new Atlanta FinTech Task Force
  • Scott Thompson – CEO of Shoprunner and Former CEO of Yahoo and President of PayPal
  • Eric Byunn – Managing Partner, Centana Growth, and a former partner with FTV Capital
  • Richard Diamond – Managing Director, JP Morgan, and Head of Global Technology Services (including transaction processing, payments, and information services)

Topics included the current state of financial services, innovation challenges, working with startups, and the future of FinTech,

Key Takeaways: The next wave of innovation in FinTech

“The next wave of innovation is going to take friction out of the process to add value.” Tony Catalfano

“Financial services and technology are significantly underrepresented. One of the things we really like about sector is that it’s so large, there are many different approaches.” ~Eric Byunn

“The ideal entrepreneur to solve some of these problems is trained by a bank but knows there’s a better way that exists.” Scott Thompson

Key Takeaways: The potential for innovation and disruption is massive

“There are lots of problems still to solve on how to eat into the paper burden. The data needs to evolve. Authentication needs to be innovated.” Tony Catalfano

“There’s an interesting phenomenon that you can attract a customer from across the world, they view your site, but there’s no way to make the sale. The global nature of where commerce is going to go, what customers you are going to have, and how can you serve them like your core US customer has to be innovated.” ~Scott Thompson

“The incumbents have to move and evolve. Even PayPal has to move and evolve.” Richard Diamond

Key Takeaways: How newcomers can add value to the market

“What additional things do I need to help me serve this customer? How do I get a repeat customer to come back and then use the 2.5 percent saved to attract a new consumer? People who are innovative in that space are answering that question.” Scott Thompson
“You can create magic when you have 2 sides of the network on your platform.” Scott Thompson
“Innovators who play into the themes to differentiate will find people who are willing to invest.” ~Richard Diamond

Key Takeaways: Partnering with startups

“If venture investing is hard, partnerships are in that same category.” Scott Thompson

“All over the country there’s the long standing argument that you need very frequent interaction to assist and value add early on to the company. Geographic proximity is important in early days.” Eric Byunn

“We are big supporters of working with startups. You have to be able to manage talent and have the bandwidth to fully understand and take advantage of the talent. Here, in Atlanta, people are much bigger fish in a small pond.” Tony Catalfano

Key Takeaways: the most impactful company in the space today

Cardlytics and Groundfloor, two Atlanta based FinTech companies, were mentioned alongside Alipay and Google.

The Future

We are excited to be part of this community and looking forward to helping Atlanta FinTech continue to #MoveTopRight. Learn more about our work in Financial Services.

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