What Makes Atlanta the Fintech Capital of the World?

70% of global payments go through “Transaction Alley”

Ask anyone where they think the financial capitals of the world are, and nine times out of ten, the answer will be New York, London and Tokyo. Those who are following the markets closely or want to be more precise might include other cities like Shanghai, Hong Kong and Singapore. But Atlanta, Georgia isn’t likely to make anyone’s list of top digital payment powerhouses.

Dig a little deeper though, and it quickly becomes apparent that Georgia is a major unsung financial technology (FinTech) hero.

One stat in particular sheds light on the state’s emerging FinTech dominance. Surprising to most, even Georgia natives, it also impressed U.K. Prime Minister’s Ambassador for FinTech,Alastair Lukies CBE. Lukies, who attended the 2018 Payments 20 (P20) conference in Atlanta, noted that “one of the things I never realized was that 70% of [global] payments…goes through Atlanta.”ii In fact, the region dubbed by the financial world as “Transaction Alley” is beginning to rack up an impressive list of FinTech credentials:

  • 7 of the 9 largest U.S. card acquirers are based in Georgia.iii
  • 6 of the 10 largest U.S. payment processing firms are headquartered in the state.i
  • The top 20 Georgia-based FinTech companies generate annual revenue of more than $72 billion.iii
  • More than 38,000 professionals in Georgiaiii (and over 130,000 globally)i are employed by Georgia-based FinTech firms.
  • These companies process over 128 billion transactions (over $5 trillion) per year.iii
  • There are over 20 blockchain companies based in Georgia and at least 10 of Georgia’s large corporations, such as Coca-Cola, UPS and Cox Enterprises are experimenting with blockchain.iv

FinTech and Digital Payments Companies in Georgia’s Transaction Alley (Source: American Transaction Processors Coalition)v

Barry McCarthy, former chair of FinTech Atlanta, probably summed it up best. In a Forbes interview he said, “Over a period of time when no one was paying attention, this crazy thing was happening. Metro Atlanta, and Georgia in total, has become the FinTech capital of the world.”vi

Becoming a powerhouse is based on partnering

Partnering has been key to Atlanta’s growth as a FinTech powerhouse. Strong support from the public and private sectors has helped the region flourish as a FinTech hotbed and form collaborative alliances such as the Technology Association of Georgia, American Transaction Processors Coalition, FinTech Atlanta and FinTech Georgia.

The power of collaborative partnerships is something that Equinix knows well. We were founded more than 20 years ago with a vision of providing a neutral, equal-access platform where growing internet traffic exchange could happen seamlessly. The vision worked. The world’s leading networks began building and connecting their infrastructures inside Equinix International Business ExchangeTM (IBX®) data centers. As e-commerce and content consumption patterns became increasingly mobile, these providers soon followed in an effort to place their services closer to users. As a result, cloud and e-commerce providers such as Microsoft and Amazon also jumped in, accelerating the growth of these digital ecosystems.

Atlanta’s emergence as a FinTech hub really began to take off when payment processing moved from manual checks to digital transactions. In a similar manner, Equinix saw its financial ecosystem grow as stock markets moved from manual to electronic trading. Financial services and the exchanges wanted the most effective way to exchange high volumes with the lowest latency possible. Today, Equinix is in the world’s 20 leading financial markets, and the world’s top stock exchanges and banks do business with our company.

And, as discussed in the blog Payments At The Edge: Dealing with Data in Digital Payments, Platform Equinix® provides a direct and secure interconnection between banks, retailers, consumers and all other players in the digital payment supply chain. Being in close proximity to their partners and users enables ecommerce and digital payment providers to improve their customer experience and process payments that are fast and secure.

Here are a few examples in the digital payments space:

ACI Worldwide wanted to move its digital payment applications to the cloud to enable its customers to make faster, more secure and less expensive transactions. Platform Equinix provided fast, private interconnection between ACI, its network and cloud providers, partners and customers. This enabled ACI to provide their customers with fast, secure cloud payment services, while also exchanging data and analytics with critical partners for real-time fraud detection.

FreedomPay, a leader in digital commerce transaction solutions (mobile payments, cashless solutions, payment processing), wanted to expand its global presence while transforming its IT infrastructure to better capture and support new business. By leveraging  Interconnection Oriented Architecture™ (IOA®) best practices on Platform Equinix, the company gained immediate access to two-thirds of its existing payment partners inside Equinix, improved network bandwidth by 10x, reduced latency and saved $1 million in CAPEX and OPEX costs.

iZettle, a mobile payments company, wanted to expand to other markets but was limited by having all of its payment processing infrastructure based in Europe. Colocating with Equinix helped iZettle expand from one to three continents in just six months, enabling the company to establish an early foothold in new markets, reduce its customer transaction times and lay the groundwork for further expansion. Based on latency testing, the company was able to cut the estimated transaction processing times by nearly 50% by moving to Equinix data centers.

The future of FinTech

The digitalization of the modern world will continue to disrupt every industry. Having the world at our fingertips means anything can be purchased anytime, anywhere and through any device. Atlanta is riding the wave of this digital reinvention of payment processing to become a quiet FinTech powerhouse. Developing and being part of vibrant digital ecosystems is the name of the game. Platform Equinix enables our more than 9,800 customers to Interconnect Everyone that matters to their business, from any IBX data center in the world. That includes nearly half of the Fortune 500 and more than 1,250 financial services companies.

Learn more about our Atlanta data centers and download the white paper on key trends in digital payments markets.

 

[i]Georgia Department of Economic Development, Georgia has emerged as a world leader in FinTech due to the presence of an unprecedented number of financial technology industry leaders.

[ii] P20, Transaction Alley: The Name Atlanta Earned After 100+ Years of Payments and Financial Technology advancements, May 2018.

[iii]  TAG FinTech and the Financial Services Innovation Lab at the Scheller College of Business at Georgia Tech, 2018 State of Georgia’s FinTech Ecosystem, May 2018.

[iv] TAG and the Scheller College of Business at Georgia Tech, 2019 Blockchain Ecosystem Flash Report, State of blockchain ecosystem in Georgia, 2019.

[v] American Transaction Processors Coalition, Map of Georgia’s Transaction Alley

[vi] Forbes, Atlanta Boldly Claims Global FinTech Lead Status, Dec 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

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