FinTech Accelerators

Atlanta has a rich start-up community. Currently, there are more than 90 FinTech start-up companies in Atlanta and throughout Georgia. Many are housed in accelerators and start-up incubators. Some of those facilities include:

Trey Loughran's photo

When other FinTech companies ask me what it is like to do business in Atlanta, I tell them you could not find a business environment more embracing and supportive of our industry. This, coupled with an ecosystem filled with a healthy mix of both start-ups and more established companies and educated, engaged talent, has made Atlanta a dynamic center for FinTech and offers what seems to be limitless opportunities for companies, investors and employees.

Timeline: FinTech In Georgia

  1. 1899

    Equifax is founded in Atlanta, GA, as Retail Credit Company

  2. 1967

    NDC, now known as Global Payments, is incorporated

  3. 1969

    The Atlanta Fed and Georgia Tech partner on electronic payments study

  4. 1973

    The Atlanta Automated Clearinghouse (ACH) is operational

  5. 1974

    Tellie, the All-Time Teller, is introduced by First National Bank of Atlanta

  6. 1991

    Elavon, formerly NOVA, is founded in Atlanta

  7. 1992

    InComm is founded

  8. 1995

    CheckFree buys Servantis Systems (SSI), the leader in ACH; relocates to Norcross

  9. 1995

    Security First Network Bank, world’s first internet bank: relocates to Atlanta

  10. 2005

    ControlScan is founded in Atlanta

  11. 2008

    Cardlytics is founded in Atlanta

  12. 2009

    First Data relocates to Atlanta

  13. 2009

    NCR establishes its new corporate headquarters in Duluth.

  14. 2009

    Kabbage launches in Atlanta

  15. 2010

    Technology Association of Georgia(TAG) hosts its first FinTech Symposium

  16. 2014

    Worldpay announces its relocation from Sandy Springs to Atlanta

  17. 2014

    American Transaction Processors Coalition launches in Georgia

  18. 2015

    FinTech Atlanta is founded

Chris Poelma's photo

Working with the Georgia Institute of Technology, the Atlanta Fed introduced an automated clearinghouse in 1973. This laid the groundwork for what is now a rich, one-of-a-kind FinTech ecosystem in Georgia that includes Fortune 500 companies and start-ups innovating at intersection of mobility, big data and cloud. We are driving the global financial marketplace with more than 100 FinTech companies, employing more than 30,000 people in nearly every sector. Simply put, Atlanta powers the financial marketplace.

Chris Poelma
President

NCR Small Business

FinTech Innovators

The TAG FinTech Hall of Fame inducts one industry leader every year to honor and celebrate those who have made a memorable impact in Georgia's industry-leading FinTech landscape.

T. Stephen Johnson's headshot
2017 T. Stephen Johnson
Co-Founder & Sr. Managing Director at Brightlane Partners LLC

Steve has been one of the leaders in changing the landscape of the financial services industry in the U.S. for over three decades. In 1987, he founded T. Stephen Johnson & Associates, a bank consulting firm specializing in mergers & acquisitions, regulatory consulting, strategic consulting, services…

Steve has been one of the leaders in changing the landscape of the financial services industry in the U.S. for over three decades. In 1987, he founded T. Stephen Johnson & Associates, a bank consulting firm specializing in mergers & acquisitions, regulatory consulting, strategic consulting, services for the underbanked, bank formations, and capital raising. This company is the predecessor to his current business, Brightlane Partners.

Mr. Johnson’s other credits include the incubation of the first debit card with Directo, Inc., the first internet-only bank with NetBank, Inc., and the first remote deposit capture product with The UPS Store. Steve also created and managed the $100M asset Southeast Bank Fund in the late ‘90’s, the $25M asset Morgan Keegan Select Fund in the early 2000’s, and the $38M asset North American Bank Fund in 2006.

Mr. Johnson has been a member of the Board of Trustees of the Georgia Tech Scheller College of Business and the school’s athletic board. He served on the Carter Center Board, the State Board of Human Resources, and the Stone Mountain Park Board (20 years). He was Mayor of Decatur, Georgia at age 27. He served as a Director of Proficio Bank, Netbank Inc (NTBK)., Florida Bank, N.A, (FLBK), Avenue Bank, Bank of Atlanta and 7 other FDIC insured financial institutions. Currently he is a member of Board of DHL (DHLC). Mr. Johnson earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Management from the Scheller College of Business at the Georgia Institute of Technology and a Master of Business Administration degree from the Robinson College of Business at Georgia State University.

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 Brooks Smith's headshot
2016 Brooks Smith
CEO, InComm

During his 24 years in the prepaid industry, InComm CEO Brooks Smith has spearheaded the development of the prepaid industry as well as innovative point-of-sale technology to help connect the industry’s leading product providers with many of the world’s largest retailers. While working as a…

During his 24 years in the prepaid industry, InComm CEO Brooks Smith has spearheaded the development of the prepaid industry as well as innovative point-of-sale technology to help connect the industry’s leading product providers with many of the world’s largest retailers.

While working as a sales and marketing executive early on his career, Brooks developed a keen interest in technology. He played an integral role in the creation of one of the first telephone debit platforms utilizing a central database in the US. It was this project that led him to realize the potential in creating viable retail and technology solutions for prepaid products.

From that insight, he founded InComm in 1992, which in its earliest days focused on supporting the development of prepaid programs and point of sale solutions. Soon after its launch, Brooks led InComm toward the creation and perfection of Point of Sale Activation (POSA) technologies that have provided the foundation that the entire prepaid industry is built on today. That includes being the first company to launch Host to Host POSA prepaid cards in 1995 (Fastcard), and the first to launch POSA wireless top-up cards for prepaid mobile in 1999.

In addition to those amazing accomplishments, Brooks led InComm as it launched the market’s first POSA Network branded gift cards with American Express followed a year later by the first POSA Visa gift card, branded Vanilla Visa, and in 2004 the first POSA Apple iTunes cards offered to consumers . He has been awarded 210 global patents related to the prepaid industry.

Named Georgia’s Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2007, Brooks is a respected thought leader who has created valuable relationships with the country’s top retail giants, including Walmart, Target, CVS, Walgreens, 7-Eleven and many more, as well as numerous national leading product brands including Apple, Microsoft, American Express and Visa.

He is an industry pioneer because of his innovative work in the growth, shaping and direction of the prepaid product industry. From launching POSA prepaid and gift cards to making them available digitally online as well as advancing POS payments technology and creating InComm’s own line of prepaid branded Vanilla products, he has been the trailblazer within the industry. He is currently pioneering new uses for his technology in bill payment, health care and transportation. He has created a vast payments network specializing in complex and non traditional transactions.

InComm constantly remains at the forefront of the prepaid industry , driving growth of diverse global products from top retailers and providers in North and South America, Europe and the Asia-Pacific region.

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2015 Phil Tomlinson
Chairman of the Board, TSYS

Phil Tomlinson, chairman of the board of TSYS, has been the driving champion for excellence in client service for the company’s entire history. As CEO, Tomlinson directed the company’s strategy of technological growth and advancement. But among clients, colleagues and team members, he is better…

Phil Tomlinson, chairman of the board of TSYS, has been the driving champion for excellence in client service for the company’s entire history. As CEO, Tomlinson directed the company’s strategy of technological growth and advancement. But among clients, colleagues and team members, he is better known for his tireless efforts to exceed client expectations every day.

Tomlinson joined Columbus Bank and Trust (CB&T) in 1974, after a successful management career with General Electric Corporation. Since TSYS was established as a spin-off in 1983, Tomlinson has played a key role in almost every major decision and relationship that has shaped the company’s development. Tomlinson is a graduate of Louisiana State University’s School of Banking of the South, and recently was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Columbus State University. Mr. Tomlinson was a 2008 recipient of the prestigious Turknett Leadership Character Award, presented by the Turknett Leadership Group and Kennesaw State University, and received the Ernst and Young Lifetime Achievement Award at their 25th Entrepreneur of the Year Program.

In addition to his role as Chairman of the Board for TSYS, Tomlinson also serves on the Board’s Executive Committee. He is also a member of the Board of Directors for Synovus Financial Corp., and serves on the Risk Committee. Tomlinson also serves on the Georgia Economic Development Board and has served in various capacities in the community, including the Georgia Tech Advisory Board, the Board of the American Cancer Society, the United Way Board, the Muscogee Educational Excellence Foundation, the Board of the Boys and Girls Club and the executive committee of the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce, of which he served as chairman in 2006. He is currently very involved with Columbus State University and serves on their Foundation Board, having served as chairman in 2011, the University Leadership Advisory Board, and the Turner College of Business Advisory Board.

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Pamela Joseph's headshot
2013 Pamela Joseph
Vice Chairman of Payment Services, US Bancorp

Pamela A. Joseph is vice chairman of U.S. Bancorp Payment Services and chairman of Atlanta-based Elavon, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of U.S. Bancorp. As a member of the 14-member managing committee at U.S. Bancorp, she is responsible for U.S. Bank Retail Payment Solutions, Corporate Payment…

Pamela A. Joseph is vice chairman of U.S. Bancorp Payment Services and chairman of Atlanta-based Elavon, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of U.S. Bancorp. As a member of the 14-member managing committee at U.S. Bancorp, she is responsible for U.S. Bank Retail Payment Solutions, Corporate Payment Systems, Elavon Global Acquiring Solutions, and Elavon Financial Services, U.S. Bancorp’s chartered European financial institution.

Joseph is a 25-year veteran of the financial services industry. Before joining Elavon in 1994, she served with Visa International as director over new market development. Prior to her tenure with VISA, Joseph served for more than eight years in the banking industry with Wells Fargo Bank.

In addition to her position at U.S. Bancorp, Joseph is a member of the board of directors of Paychex, Inc. a provider of payroll, human resource and benefits outsourcing solutions. She is a member of the board of directors for Centene Corporation, a multi-line health services enterprise that administers state Medicaid programs, and is also chairman of Women Leaders in Action, a non-profit organization that funds the health, well-being and education of children in Africa.

U.S. Bancorp (NYSE: USB), with $264 billion in assets, is the parent company of U.S. Bank, the 6th largest commercial bank in the United States. The company operates over 3,000 banking offices and 5,183 ATMs in 24 states and provides a comprehensive line of banking, brokerage, insurance, investment, mortgage, trust and payment services to consumers, businesses and institutions. Visit U.S. Bancorp on the web at www.usbank.com.

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2012 Paul Garcia
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Global Payments

Paul R. Garcia is Chairman of the Board and CEO of Global Payments Inc. (NYSE:GPN), one of the world’s leading payment processing companies. He is a pioneer and leader in the financial and payments services industry, having served in management and executive management roles for thirty years.…

Paul R. Garcia is Chairman of the Board and CEO of Global Payments Inc. (NYSE:GPN), one of the world’s leading payment processing companies. He is a pioneer and leader in the financial and payments services industry, having served in management and executive management roles for thirty years. Garcia originally became Chief Executive Officer of NDC’s Atlanta-based eCommerce line of business in June 1999. NDC eCommerce began operating as Global Payments Inc. on December 11, 2000, and the new company spun off from National Data on February 1, 2001.

Mr. Garcia has served on a number of Boards of Directors, including the Global, U.S. and Latin American Boards of MasterCard International and the Electronic Transactions Association. Currently, Mr. Garcia is on the Boards of the Dun & Bradstreet Corporation (D&B), the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. He is a Life Trustee and former Chairman of Pace Academy in Atlanta, Georgia. Mr. Garcia was honored as 2004 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year® in Financial Services for Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee, and named “one of the best CEOs in America” five times by Institutional Investor.

Mr. Garcia was also recognized by the Electronic Transactions Association as the recipient of the 2008-2009 Distinguished Payments Professional Award.

Mr. Garcia resides in Atlanta with his wife Carol, and they have six children.

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2011 Peter J. Kight
Founder, Chairman, and Chief Executive Officer of CheckFree until selling to Fiserv in December 2007

Kight founded CheckFree in 1981 in his grandmother’s basement, with a vision of providing electronic funds transfer services to businesses and consumers. Over the following 27 years, CheckFree expanded its scope beyond online bill payments to online and mobile banking, digital payments and…

Kight founded CheckFree in 1981 in his grandmother’s basement, with a vision of providing electronic funds transfer services to businesses and consumers. Over the following 27 years, CheckFree expanded its scope beyond online bill payments to online and mobile banking, digital payments and processing infrastructures, business intelligence analytics, electronic billing, digital reconciliation, and operational risk management systems – through both internal development and acquisitions. CheckFree, with revenues of $1.1 Billion, was sold to Fiserv, Inc in December of 2007 for $4.4 Billion.

Kight is a member of the Board of Directors at Huntington Bancshares Incorporated.

Experience:

Board Member
Blackbaud
December 2014 – Present: Charleston, South Carolina Area

Board Member
Huntington Bancshares Incorporated
June 2012 – Present: Columbus, Ohio Area

Senior Advisor
Comvest Partners
2013 – April 2015

Managing Partner
Comvest Partners
2010 – 2013: West Palm Beach, Florida Area

Comvest Partners is a private investment firm providing equity and debt capital to middle-market companies across the U.S. Comvest includes seasoned, senior level operating executives who partner with management and entrepreneurs to grow businesses and create long-term value.

Board of Directors
Fiserv
2010 – 2012

Vice-Chairman
Fiserv
2007 – 2010

Fiserv, Inc. (NASDAQ: FISV) is a leading global provider of information management and electronic commerce systems for the financial services industry, providing integrated technology and services that create value and results for our clients. Fiserv drives innovations that transform experiences for more than 16,000 clients worldwide, including banks, credit unions and thrifts, billers, mortgage lenders and leasing companies, brokerage and investment firms and other business clients.

Board of Directors
Akamai Technologies
2004 – 2012: Cambridge, MA

Board of Directors
Manhattan Associates
2007 – 2011: Greater Atlanta Area

Founder, Chairman, and CEO
CheckFree
1981 – 2007

Founded in 1981, CheckFree Corporation (Nasdaq: CKFR) provides financial electronic commerce services and products to organizations around the world. CheckFree Electronic Commerce solutions enable thousands of financial services providers and billers to offer their customers the convenience of receiving and paying their household bills online or in person through retail outlets. CheckFree Investment Services provides a broad range of investment management solutions and outsourced services to thousands of financial services organizations, which manage more than $1 trillion in assets. CheckFree Software develops, markets and supports software applications that are used by financial institutions to process more than two-thirds of the 10 billion Automated Clearing House transactions in the United States. The division also provides global trade processing, reconciliation, financial messaging, compliance and electronic billing and statement software to hundreds of organizations across the globe.

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James H. Blanchard's headshot
2010 James H. Blanchard
Retired Chairman of the Board and CEO, Synovus / Chairman, Board of Advisors, Jordan-Blanchard Capital, LLC

Experience: Blanchard began his service with Synovus Financial Corp. in June 1970 and served as CEO of Synovus from 1971 until being named Chairman of the Board in July 2005. Blanchard retired from Synovus in October 2006. In 2011, he partnered with the Jordan Company, a Columbus-based real estate…

Experience:

Blanchard began his service with Synovus Financial Corp. in June 1970 and served as CEO of Synovus from 1971 until being named Chairman of the Board in July 2005. Blanchard retired from Synovus in October 2006. In 2011, he partnered with the Jordan Company, a Columbus-based real estate and investment firm, to create Jordan-Blanchard Capital.

Education:

B.B.A., The University of Georgia, 1963

LL.B., The University of Georgia, 1965

Affiliations:
  • Chairman and CEO, Retired, Synovus Financial Corp.
  • Lead Director, Total System Services, Inc.
  • Emeritus Director, Columbus Bank and Trust Company
  • Retired Lead Director, AT&T Corporation
  • Director, W.C. Bradley Co.
  • Director, Chick-fil-A, Inc.
  • Chairman, Global Teen Challenge Advisory Board
  • Chairman, Florida/Georgia Teen Challenge Board of Directors
  • Director, World Leader’s Group
  • Director, EQUIP
  • Member Emeritus, Terry Dean’s Advisory Council, University of Georgia
  • Member, Building Terry Campaign Cabinet, University of Georgia
  • Member, Lead Like Jesus National Advisory Board
  • Member, Georgia Historical Society Board of Curators
  • Trustee, Columbus State University Foundation
  • Past Trustee and Past Chairman, Georgia Research Alliance
  • Past Director and Past Chairman, Financial Services Roundtable
  • Past Director and Past Chairman, BITS (formerly Bankers Information Technology Secretariat)
  • Past Director, American Bankers Association
Honors:
  • Alumni Merit Award for distinguished and loyal service, The University of Georgia, 2015
  • Impact Award for “Building Better Lives,” New Horizons Community Services Board, 2014
  • The Sue Marie and Bill Turner Servant Leadership Award, The Pastoral Institute, 2013
  • Divine Servant Leadership Award, Lead Like Jesus, 2012
  • 2010 FinTech Lifetime Achievement Award, Technology Association of Georgia
  • 2008-2009 Honorary Chairman, Financial Services Roundtable Scholarship Foundation
  • Designated First Presidential Fellow, Columbus State University, 2009
  • Charter Recipient, Georgia Ethics in Business Award, 2009. The award is now known as the Blanchard Award in Business Ethics
  • Southeastern University Doctorate of Humane Letters, 2009
  • The Eddie Sams Award, University of Georgia Golf Team, 2008
  • Rozier Dedwylder Leadership Award, Uptown Columbus Inc., 2008
  • Lifetime Achievement Award, Technology Association of Georgia, 2007
  • Woodruff Award, Columbus Chamber of Commerce, 2007
  • VanLandingham Award, Georgia Council on Economic Education, 2006
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Unity Award, Delta Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. Educational Foundation, 2006
  • “Most Influential Georgians Hall of Fame,” Georgia Trend magazine, 2006
  • “25 Most Influential People in Financial Services,” US Banker magazine, 2005
  • Beta Gamma Sigma International Honoree Award, 2005
  • “Georgian of the Year,” Georgia Trend magazine, 2003
  • “Most Respected CEO” in the state, Georgia Trend magazine, 1997
Summary:

Jim served as Chairman and CEO of Synovus, a multi-billion dollar financial services company, based in Columbus, Georgia. Synovus bank divisions provide commercial and retail banking, investment and mortgage services to customers in Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, Florida and Tennessee.

In 2006, he formed a partnership with Columbus State University’s Cunningham Center for Leadership Development to create the Jim Blanchard Leadership Forum. The mission of the forum is to provide Columbus, and the region, the opportunity to interact with some of the most influential political, military and business leaders in the world to create a synergy that raises both the local and national standard for leadership development. Previous speakers at the forum include President George W. Bush, former First Lady Laura Bush, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, former U.S. Senators Sam Nunn and Zell Miller, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, author Ken Blanchard, author John Maxwell, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, General David Petraeus and former U.S. Attorney General Griffin Bell. “One of the greatest gifts I can offer to our country is an investment in Leadership. We want to provide a forum where leaders can be exposed to the best and brightest minds in the world today,” said Blanchard

Blanchard currently serves as Chairman, Board of Advisors, Jordan-Blanchard Capital, LLC, a firm that focuses on investing in small businesses in the manufacturing, distribution and business services sectors.

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