Looking to further enhance relationships between entrepreneurs and community banks across the state, the Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC) and the Community Bankers Association of Georgia (CBA) hosted a daylong pitch event to showcase some of the most dynamic ideas in financial technology.
The Feb. 13 event stems from ATDC and CBA’s 2019 announcement to collaborate to bring innovative technologies to community banks. ATDC, a program of Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute, is the state of Georgia’s technology incubator.
As part of the collaboration, CBA created a FinTech committee tasked with working with ATDC to develop educational and outreach programming opportunities for the incubator’s FinTech portfolio.
“We all need to know each other and talk to each other,” said CBA president and CEO John McNair, underscoring the objectives of the joint effort. “Believe me there will be a bank or two or three that you will interact with that will say, ‘why don’t you bring it into our house for a beta test?’ And that’s what this is all about.”
The more than 50 bankers, including Georgia Department of Banking and Finance Commissioner Kevin Hagler, heard presentations from several FinTech companies in ATDC’s portfolio, had opportunities to ask those entrepreneurs questions, and explore potential pilot tests with individual community banks.
“My agency is very excited about the work that’s being done here, and we want to help foster that as much as possible,” Hagler said. “As a state regulator, our mandate is safety and soundness, but it’s also economic development, so I don’t ever want to stamp out innovation. We’re far more interested in helping to foster that.”
Georgia has 150 community banks, according to the QwickAnalytics Community Banking Index, and have more than $45.6 billion in assets. These institutions, broadly defined as having less than $1 billion in assets, play a vital role in Georgia’s economy. They make 50 percent of all small business loans and more than 80 percent of all agribusiness loans in Georgia, according to the CBA.
FinTech is also an important sector in the Georgia economy with 70 percent of all U.S. transactions being handled by payment processing firms located in the state. Metro Atlanta’s “Transaction Alley” boasts more than 50 FinTech companies which generate annual revenue that exceeds $72 billion.
That strength and continued growth in FinTech is partly why ATDC launched its FinTech program in 2015 following a $1 million gift from Worldpay to support it.
Now sponsored by Elavon, a global payments provider and U.S. Bancorp subsidiary, the ATDC FinTech Program continues to be a robust and thriving success.
Since launching the ATDC FinTech Program, the incubator has evaluated more than 150 FinTech startups and counts 35 such companies in its portfolio.
“Our companies have been asked to present at Money 20/20 Asia, and have been selected in participate in some of the most coveted global accelerator cohorts, including Techstars’ Barclay’s London and Lloyd’s of London’s Lloyd Lab,” said ATDC Director John Avery.”
Venture capitalists are also paying close attention to the portfolio, and making investments. Greenlight Financial, an ATDC graduate, raised $54 million in 2019 in a Series B financing round, bringing its total capital raises to $80 million since its 2014 launch.
“I’m proud of what we’ve been able to help our FinTech companies work to accomplish in the last five years,” Avery said. “That’s why I’m excited about building on these successes and looking to new collaborations such as this one with the CBA to continue to help FinTech grow and thrive in Georgia.”