ATPC Jacksonville Tour Leads to Media Coverage

Representatives of the American Transaction Processors Coalition (ATPC) visited Jacksonville in February to spread the word about Florida’s payments processing industry impact, and received media coverage. Interviews including ATPC Executive Director West Richards and head of state government relations, Joe Testa will be appear in the coming weeks, including this piece from the Jacksonville Business Journal:

Jacksonville has strong base in fintech — but needs to do more to succeed

By James Cannon – Managing Editor
February 20, 2024

The strength of companies like FIS and Paysafe provide a strong foundation for Jacksonville to grow it’s payment processing industry — but leaders of that industry say the area needs to do more if it’s to fulfill its potential.

The First Coast has rapidly grown in this sector as it sits along the vital I-95 financial corridor and taps into its seasoned financial services workforce, representatives from the American Transaction Processors Coalition told the Business Journal recently, but if it wants to continue gaining marketshare, infrastructure investment, industry involvement and government participation is needed.

“There’s a good financial services foundation here with more than 60,000 employed,” ATPC Executive Director H. West Richards said. “There’s also a financial services history here that goes back some decades. With the existing workforce, pedigree and infrastructure improvements, Jacksonville is poised for growth.

The trade group was founded in 2014 in Atlanta, the heart of the online payment processors hub, with the likes of Visa and Mastercard dominating the scene. ATPC said it aims to lead regulatory voice for its member companies while also providing them the tools and connections they need to grow. Since its founding, the group expanded into D.C. and then throughout the I-95 corridor before growing into a nationwide group.

The group, in key partnership with Jacksonville-based FIS, established the Georgia FinTech Academy, a university system-wide program that offers a fintech certification program to 26 universities in Georgia. The academy offers classes, events, speakers and projects to prepare students for careers in the fintech industry, as well as a source for mentorships and networking.

“That is how you build a workforce organically,” Richards said.

He added that even though they nb received some pushback on the state level, going to each university and educating the stakeholders with ATPC’s corporate partners garnered support for the program. After enough universities signed up, a critical mass was reached and it became a statewide program.

While Florida hasn’t instituted programs like the Georgia FinTech Academy, that is something ATPC aims to change. Richards said he and his team have had conversations on the state level as well as with local stakeholders in Jacksonville, like JaxUSA Partnership, the economic development arm of the JaxChamber.

Richards said his conversations with JaxUSA President Aundra Wallace have been productive and said that it helps that large players in the fintech scene like FIS, PaySafe, OnPay and Finxact, among others, are willing participants and have vested interest in seeing local talent developed.

Other things would help with growth, the trade association executives said — including more activity by Tallahassee.

Joe Testa, the state government relations leader of ATPC, said it was critical the state continue making investments in its technological infrastructure and its workforce to ensure it remains competitive.

“Georgia has been very proactive in investing in growing industries, including financial services because it’s critical that they do that… they understand what is at stake,” Testa said. “We’re competing with other countries and other states in terms of the regulatory environment.”

He said that ideally most of macro policy decisions would be made federally and states would fund workforce and infrastructure investments but since the federal government has been absent, the states are taking an outsized role and are directly competing against each other.

In the meantime, ATPC said it will keep working with state legislatures to make sure small businesses and payment processors are represented.