The Georgia Institute of Technology’s Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC) recently hosted U.S. Rep. French Hill, who came to campus as part of a multi-city tour to learn about the incubator’s innovation efforts in financial technology.
Hill, an Arkansas Republican whose district includes the Little Rock area, spent more than 20 years in commercial and investment banking. He founded the Little, Rock-based Delta Trust & Banking Corp. where he served as chairman, and CEO.
A member of the House Financial Services Committee, Hill, who served under President George H.W. Bush as Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Corporate Finance, is a leading voice in the financial services industry.
“We’re going to create a new task force on FinTech in the House Financial Services Committee and are taking ideas from around the country to help drive legislative policy,” Hill said during his Feb. 16 visit where he met ATDC Director John Avery and founders of two of the incubator’s FinTech companies.
As part of his work on that task force, Hill wanted to see the innovation ecosystem that has been built around FinTech, ATDC’s role in collaborating with related business and industry to support it, and how the incubator works with companies in that sector to help them grow and succeed.
Georgia was an important stop for the Congressman’s fact-finding tour as 70 percent of all credit, debit, and gift card swipes — more than 118 billion transactions and $2 trillion in purchase volume each year — are processed through Georgia companies. More than 60 percent of all payment processing companies are either based in or have operations in the state.
ATDC’s FinTech program, launched in 2015, has 35 early-stage startups in its portfolio. Since inception, companies and recent graduates of ATDC’s FinTech program have raised more than $65 million in angel and institutional venture capital.
That success and impact factored in Hill’s visit as the Congressman’s tour also is designed to get input from FinTech companies and incubators regarding issues that can be a drag on FinTech innovation.
Entrepreneurs, Avery said, are concerned with regulations at the federal level, which sometimes conflict with one another and the uncertainty that creates for fledgling startups. What’s more, state statutes can vary, leading to additional challenges for growth.
“This is what I want to use this FinTech task force for, to work through some of these things,” Hill said, adding he wants to build a priorities list that the FinTech companies want Congress to focus on as well as emerging trends and innovations that leaders should be aware of in the industry.
Along with that, Hill is seeking input from FinTech leaders about specific issues that need further analysis and study via hearings and how Atlanta could play a role in that.
“Georgia Tech’s engagement in the startup ecosystem and Atlanta’s preeminence in payments I think is a good place to do this kind of convening.”