Payment System Under Attack? Solutions Found in Georgia!

I spent Monday at the inaugural FinTech 2010 event in Atlanta, Georgia.  Launched recently under the auspices of the Technology Association of Georgia (TAG), TAG Fintech is a new society focused on financial technology companies in Georgia.  Although few realize it, the Atlanta metropolitan area is home to the world’s largest concentration of payments companies — First Data, TSYS, Fiserv, Elavon, Global Payment, InComm, NCR, Firethorn, Equifax, Ingenico, Acculynk, SunTrust, the Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank and many others. 

The one-day event, attended by over 150 people, reflected a microcosm of the issues discussed on  Sessions included many timely subjects:


Rich Oliver from the Federal Reserve gave the keynote address.  He provided a unique perspective on several of the most salient payments issues of the day.  Rich started his address with the assertion that the “Payments system is under attack,” from a regulatory barrage – the CARD ACT, NSF/OD regulation, forthcoming rulings under the Durbin Amendment and the newly formed Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) all are paralyzing innovation in the financial services sector.  At the same time, innovations from outside the financial services industry are happening at an incredible pace.  In this environment, Rich argued, the long-term five-year strategic plans of the past are useless, and must be replaced by on-going, scenario-based planning activities.  The Fed itself is doing more scenario analysis using a framework that assesses strategic opportunities and challenges in different economic and innovation scenarios.  Interestingly enough, the Fed believes we are now in an unprecedented environment of low economic growth but high innovation.

This is an intriguing notion – and one that comes with an imperative for innovators – create excess returns in spite of a lagging economy.   My own observations suggest that the innovators here in Georgia are doing just that – trying to build businesses that create unique value for consumers, small businesses and commercial customers, despite the economic uncertainties that have characterized the last couple of years.  Moreover, these payments innovators, unlike many traditional financial services players, are moving forward to create options for growth, even in an unknown future regulatory environment.  In a word, these innovators are blazing many new trails that have potential to lead the financial services sector out of this time of uncertainty and into a new era of growth. 

So next time you’re in Georgia, remember that you are visiting a hub of payments innovation, and many of the solutions to the financial services quandaries we face are being worked on here.


Margaret is a Managing Director at Market Platform Dynamics and experienced payments industry executive with a proven track record of commercializing new technologies in small start-ups, and large multi-national corporations, Read More. Click here to contact Margaret.