FinTech in Georgia is Bigger Business Than You Think

KENNESAW, Ga. (Nov 30, 2021)By Humayun Zafar
Professor of Information Security and Assurance and FinTech Program Coordinator, Michael J. Coles College of Business

During the last few years, Georgia has been building its reputation in three main areas: 1) its championship baseball and soccer teams, 2) its thriving film and television business, and 3) its exploding financial technology industry. If you didn’t know about No. 3, it’s time you changed that.

Atlanta skyline

The market for FinTech is forecasted to reach $161.2 billion by 2026, with an expected compound annual growth rate of 8.7 percent from 2021 to 2026. Georgia is very much at the epicenter of FinTech. Over 70 percent of all U.S. electronic transactions are handled by Georgia based payment processing firms. Speaking strictly about numbers, the state is home to over 200 FinTech companies that generate an annual revenue of over $72 billion. Equifax, Global Payments, Fiserv, FIS Global, and NCR are just some of the FinTech businesses operating in Georgia.

FinTech’s growth has been fueled by innovative entrepreneurs, escalating venture investments, a welcoming regulatory environment, and the innovative application of digital technologies. At the same time, the drive for FinTech innovation is frequently constrained by a shortage of talent in critical job categories. Considering the talent demand, academia lags far behind in the FinTech sector. Few institutions have launched FinTech programs, workshops, or even academic courses. Consequently, the shortage of FinTech talent is substantial and growing. 

Kennesaw State University’s involvement in this area is thanks to a deep partnership with the Georgia FinTech Academy of the University System of Georgia. Kennesaw state offers nine FinTech courses in conjunction with the Academy, with faculty directly teaching four courses focused on digital payments. These courses are suitable for early-stage career professionals and/or transitioning career professionals. KSU and the Georgia FinTech Academy prepare students to have an immediate positive impact on FinTech firms. 

KSU’s FinTech curriculum also places special emphasis on experiential learning in each course and features the involvement of several key industry players. Through partnerships with companies like Unqork and U.S. Bank - Elavon, KSU students learn through experimentation, allowing them to conceptualize and create their own enterprise-grade solutions. These partnerships do not just highlight the role that KSU as a Higher Ed institution can play in the development of talent, but they also ensure relevance and currency of what students learn in the courses. 

By pushing forward into the emerging FinTech industry – specifically in the area of digital payments – Kennesaw State is actively working to address the skill gap that exists in that market. In addition, our activities put the University at the forefront of this growing field, allowing us to contribute to business policies and decision making by developing world class research around FinTech and its associated technologies.

FinTech may be exploding around the world, but Georgia is definitely one of the hotspots. Thanks to our proximity to a major FinTech hub in Atlanta, our increasing number of students learning to be tomorrow’s FinTech leaders, and our growing body of academic research on the subject, Kennesaw State aims to play a major role in FinTech’s future in Georgia and beyond.

Who knows, in a few years Georgia could be known more for digital payments processing than for peaches. That’s the goal, anyway!

Humayun ZafarDr. Humayun Zafar is a Professor of Information Security and Assurance, Director of the Mobile Application Development Center, and program coordinator for Kennesaw State University's FinTech Program. He has published extensive research on information security.