Money makes the world go ‘round.
However, using a physical currency is a rarity today for most consumers. In the 1950s, the Diner’s Club debuted a multi-purpose charge card that would go on to revolutionize the way consumers pay and banks process transactions. Today, technological innovations such as Apple Pay and Venmo have made even a tactile, plastic card unnecessary. With online and mobile banking applications, trips to your local financial institution have become infrequent and far between.
As of 2019, 64% of Americans are using digital banking platforms regularly. Moreover, approximately 23% of American consumers report that mobile banking through their smartphones is their primary interface with financial institutions. Beyond banking, consumers now regularly invest, borrow, and trade through apps such as Robinhood, E-trade, and Affirm.
Financial technology has revolutionized more than consumer-facing processes. Within the financial sector, more efficient means of managing funds, risks, and clients have emerged for industry insiders. Moreover, business to business interactions have been accelerated through innovative, mainstream platforms.
Today’s FinTech Industry
Tackling an array of issues including the prevalent concerns:
The proposed solutions tackle demographics categorized largely as:
Building FinTech in the SE?
Not surprisingly, the frontrunners in the southeast financial technology industry are Atlanta and Charlotte. These southern cities host regional offices for virtually all national players in the traditional financial sector. With local, pro-innovation local governments and world-class research institutions, these cities are ripe for continued FinTech growth.
With its burgeoning Tech Square, Atlanta has strategically grown local resources, recruited talents, and gained momentum in the startup space within its “community of innovation”. Within the FinTech space, local entities such as FinTech Atlanta, Technology Association of Georgia, and the Georgia Tech Financial Innovations Labare paving the way for continued growth in the sector.
Local success stories such as those of Cardlytics and southern unicorn Kabagge have helped put Atlanta on the map in FinTech. Cardlytics uses purchased-based intelligence gathered from consumers to help facilitate more targeting marketing campaigns and customer loyalty programs. The company went public in February 2018 at a $273M IPO valuation. On the other hand, Kabagge provides small business loans and has emerged as a rare, Atlanta-based unicorn.
Key takeaways from the 2018 State of Georgia FinTech Ecosystem Report include the region’s strength in payment processing. Per the findings of the TAG and Georgia Tech Financial Innovations Lab, “57.7 billion U.S. purchase transactions are processed by Georgia-based acquirers, [which is] roughly two-thirds of the total volume”.
Atlanta’s Notable FinTech Startups:
Atlanta, GA| Est. 2011
Mission: Serves as a payment processor for the peer-to-peer digital currency.
VC Funds:$72.5 million
Funding Notes: To date the company has raised $72.5 million across six venture rounds. An initial $500,000 seed round in 2013 named both Ashton Kutcher and the Digital Currency group as investors. Subsequent rounds were led by Aquiline Technology Growth, Virgin Group, Index Ventures, and Founders Found. The most recent, $10 million Series B round closed in April 2018.
Atlanta, GA| Est. 2014
Mission: Greenlight is the smart debit card for kids that parents manage from their phones.
VC Funds:$27.5 million
Funding Notes: An initial $7.5 million seed round raised in 2017 led by Relay Ventures with TechSquare Labs, TTV Capital, Social Capital, & New Enterprise Associates. A February 2018 $20 million Series A round was led by TTV Capital and founded across 10 different entities.
Over the past decade, the Queen City has emerged as a regional stronghold for financial services and banking. Home to the headquarters for Bank of America and Lending Tree, many more national organizations have regional offices Charlotte’s thriving banking corridor.
In the FinTech space, organizations such as the Carolina FinTech Hub and BLK TECH CLT contribute to the strength of the ecosystem. Moreover, local accelerator program Queen City FinTech recruits startup organizations from across the state and beyond. Annual events such as Southeast FinTech Ventures Conference (November 2019), UNC Charlotte Venture Challenge, and Insurance Tech Summit (June 2019) further lend the area credence within the financial startup space.
Success stories born and raised in the area include the accounts payable and invoice management company AvidXchange, which closed a $300 M private equity round in 2017 following previous VC rounds dating back to 2002.
Current startups to note in the Queen City FinTech space:
Charlotte, NC | Est. 2016
Mission: An app that helps couples handle their everyday finances and save for their biggest life goals together.
VC Funds: $120,000
Funding Notes: A September 2018 convertible note from TechStars + Barclay’s Accelerator infused $120,000 to this startup that has received national press from likes of Hypepotamus and Forbes.
Charlotte, NC | Est. 2014
Mission: An all-in-one Financial Tool that helps contractors grow their business.
VC Funds:$17.7 million
Funding Notes: Initial $4.2 million raised in a venture round led by Route 66 Ventures in April 2015. Subsequently has raised an additional $13.5 million across two rounds from the likes of GroTech Ventures, IDEA Fund Partners, Ferguson Ventures, MetaBank.
#BuildInSE FinTech Startups
How to Build Your Financial Technology Network
Recruit Local Experts & Interns:
- Atlanta Technology Development Center | Georgia
- Atlanta Tech Village | Georgia
- Georgia Institute for Technology | Georgia
- Fuqua Business School at Duke University | North Carolina
- Miami Finance Forum | Florida
- Tech Birmingham | Alabama
- University of South Florida FinTech Certification Program | Florida
Find Mentors, Feedback, & Funds:
The following accelerator programs are based in the southeast:
- Financial Technology (FinTech) Program at the Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC)
- Queen City FinTech
The following venture firms are based in the southeast and have a stated or a demonstrated record of investing in FinTech:
- CFV Ventures
- Columbia Capital
- FinTech Ventures Fund
- Frontier Capital
- Grotech Ventures
- Virginia Tech Investor Network
- QED Investors
- Route 66 Ventures
- Techsquare Labs
- TTV Capital
For a full listing of SE-based venture firms: Southeast Capital Landscape 2019 Report
On the national level, the following organizations specialize in FinTech startups & innovation:
- B2B Ventures
- Barclay’s Accelerator
- FinTech Innovation Lab
- FinTech Sandbox
- Mass Challenge
- Startup Bootcamp FinTech Programs
- Venture Center Fintech Accelerator
National Venture Capital
- 500 Startups
- Bain Capital Ventures
- F-Prime Capital
- Fenway Summer
- FinTech Collective
- Omidyar Network
- Plug & Play
- Ribbit Capital
Southeast-Based Annual Events:
At ModernCapital, our mission is to increase the number of startup success stories in the Southeast by leveraging a cross-regional, collaborative network. We believe the future of company building will be geographically distributed, hyper-personalized, and driven by creativity.
Based in Nashville, ModernCapital believes the best talent will #BuildInSE(translation: Build In Southeast).