Georgia is often lauded as a top state in the nation for business (WE’RE #1!). One of the primary industries supporting this tremendous growth is financial technology (colloquially referred to as “fintech”), with small and large (Fortune 1000) technology-based companies calling the region home. At Parker Poe, we understand the importance of fintech to the overall growth of metro Atlanta and the State of Georgia.

Fintech companies are perhaps uniquely prepared to take advantage of certain Georgia-specific opportunities. In and around the state’s urban centers, they enjoy relatively inexpensive locations. The state’s strong system of higher education provides a pipeline to millennial talent looking to change the world via technology. Moreover, state and local governments have helped advance Georgia’s fintech industry in many ways, from helping companies eliminate restrictions on raising funds, to historically allowing credit card companies to charge competitive rates to customers.

Earlier this year on this blog, my colleagues Shaney Lokken, Matt Nichols, and Michael Kozlarek discussed the work by Georgia’s Rural Development Council to improve the lives of rural Georgians and improve job opportunities outside of metro Atlanta. This post is about one of the largest growth industries in metro Atlanta. Indeed, fintech is arguably as important to the financial future of metro Atlanta as either the entertainment industry or the quest for Amazon’s HQ2.  While Georgia continues, rightfully, to celebrate its growth within the movie industry, Georgia’s fintech industry is now bigger than the entire movie production industry of the United States, according to the American Transaction Processors Association.

In fact, and despite the emphasis on its growth, the fintech industry is already a force to be reckoned with in Georgia. Atlanta is now the dominant center for global financial payment processors. The payment processing industry in and around metropolitan Atlanta is estimated to already employ more than 40,000 people – and that number is only expected to rise. The region even has its own nickname: “Transaction Alley.” That nickname is well-earned as, according to the American Transaction Processors Coalition, nearly 70 percent of the transactions in the U.S. route through Georgia.

The growth of fintech in and around Atlanta has, of course, led to the development of scores of businesses supporting the sector, the so-called fintech ecosystem. The supporting companies include those focused on data mining, internet security, networking, and other services that are integral to the entire technology sector. This ecosystem will be yet another driving force in Georgia’s economy.

The state has definitely taken notice. Among other things, the Georgia Department of Economic Development made the support and growth of the financial services industry one of its top priorities. Along with high-profile and statewide efforts at business development such as Amazon HQ2, the continuing growth of the financial technology industry will help power the region’s long-term economic growth.

At Parker Poe, our fintech clients include financial institutions, venture capital funds, startups, and others looking to invest in new technologies or innovative strategies. But fintech companies often have the same legal issues that other financial institutions face every day. Some of these concerns include leveraging technological innovation, protecting and enhancing intellectual property and trade secrets, and establishing efficient compliance with the patchwork of laws and regulation that touch this industry.

Regardless of where we live in Georgia, we should care about the success of the fintech industry. It is an important economic driver of Atlanta and therefore the state. And it shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

David Adams