28 April 2023

Conference highlights Atlantas lasting role as payment processing hub

Electronic Transaction Association
s (ETA) Transact conference, where they focused on new technology and innovation.
The roots of Transaction Alley were set when Atlanta was the Southeasts banking hub. But even though Charlotte has taken that crown in recent decades, the digital payment processing industry still runs through Atlanta, ETA CEO Jodie Kelley said.
I certainly dont sense any movement out of Atlanta. In fact, quite the opposite, she told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
ETA is the trade association that represents the payments industry, which includes traditional banks, credit card providers and fintechs financial technology companies using mobile or online platforms. About 3,000 people gathered at the Georgia World Congress Center from Monday to Wednesday for Transact, which Kelley said was record attendance.
She said its fitting for that watermark to be broken in Atlanta, but the processing industrys coalescence in the city is mostly due to a bygone era. Atlanta was one of the countrys banking meccas, but has watched most of its large institutions move or consolidate in Charlotte.
Atlanta lost its last Fortune 500 bank when SunTrust consolidated with BB&T to form Truist Bank. It then moved its headquarters to where else the Queen City in 2019. Atlanta kept the commercial banking unit headquarters of Truist, however.
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Kelley said that hasnt rattled the transactions industry, since Georgia has risen as a hotbed for fintechs and digital banking innovation. The state is home to more than 160 fintechs and payment companies, including large players such as First Data, WorldPay and Global Payments.
Atlanta is at the heart of that ecosystem, she said.
African American-owned fintechs are also gaining traction in Atlanta, which has long been a stronghold for Black banks. Founded by rapper Killer Mike, former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young and businessman Ryan Glover, Greenwood has grown quickly and
to the general public earlier in April.
Kelley said the industry is focusing its innovation on embedding payment systems in more products, from washing machines that can pay for new detergent when low to cars that can automatically pay while at the pump.
She added that companies also cant afford to be complacent on payment security.
Fraudsters are always innovating, too, so our industry has to innovate along with them, she said, adding that companies are turning to artificial intelligence and machine learning for potential solutions.
More than 42,000 Georgians are employed in the states payments industry, according to the Georgia Department of Economic Development. Kelley said she expects that to grow as long as Atlanta remains a central point for innovation.
Atlanta is proud of its association with the industry, and the industry is proud to be here, she said.

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