Financial Technology Continues to Grow in Georgia

This article appeared in Insider Advantage on April 8, 2016 and is reprinted with permission.

Financial Technology Continues to Grow in Georgia

By Bill Armistead 

While most Georgians are familiar with industry leaders like Coca Cola, UPS, Delta, Home Depot, Aflac and Southern Company, the rapid-growth sector to watch is financial technology — with names like First Data, NCR, Elavon, TSYS, SunTrust, and WorldPay.

Every year, Georgia’s growing Financial Technology (FinTech) industry is moving closer to surpassing New York and California as the nation’s most active tech centers for electronic transactions.

The Technology Association of Georgia cites the independent Nilson Report showing that there were over 135 billion payment card transactions in 2011, representing about $2.3 trillion in total consumer and commercial purchases. Over 85 billion, or nearly two-thirds of these transactions, passed through the global networks of Georgia FinTech organizations.

One look at a map of Georgia’s financial tech sector shows why it is being called “Transaction Alley” by the industry.

Georgia’s political leaders have begun to recognize the growing clout of Georgia’s FinTech industry as well.  Senator Johnny Isakson has co-founded the bipartisan Senate Payments Innovation Caucus, and freshman Senator David Perdue has taken a leading role in fighting back a relentless effort by the Obama Administration to regulate the industry.  And in the House of Representatives, Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA-03) and David Scott (D-GA-13) co-founded the Congressional Payments Technology Caucus.

Georgia’s Financial Technology industry employs over 30,000 Georgians, and a new study by the Texas-based Perryman Group found that the economic efficiencies produced from using payment cards amount to the creation of over 23 million permanent jobs nationwide, and the addition of 12 percent to the gross domestic product.

Georgia’s share of this economic impact from 2004 to 2014 amounts to an increase of $12.3 billion to the state’s gross product and over 161,000 permanent jobs.

The combined effects of Georgia’s increased economic activity and the 30,000 direct FinTech jobs in the state totals nearly 200,000 jobs.

Leadership in this sector is increasingly relevant to the growing globalization of the economy.  Internet retail transactions represent one of the strongest economic growth sectors, placing Georgia’s FinTech industry at the heart of that global economic growth.

In its latest analysis, Juniper Research predicts a 20 percent increase in the value of mobile, contactless and online payments this year, rising from $3 trillion in 2015 to $3.6 trillion in 2016.

With Georgia’s FinTech sector leading the technologies that make that kind of growth possible, it’s no wonder that talent, venture capital and companies currently headquartered outside the state are casting their eyes toward Georgia.

Bill Armistead is with Master Your Card, Georgia, a public education and financial empowerment project of MasterCard.

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