Moderated by Rick Badie
Call us “transaction alley.” Every time you swipe a credit card, you’re contributing to a leading industry in our region. Today, an industry executive writes that 70 percent of the nation’s credit card purchases are processed in Georgia. Also, the Gwinnett Chamber president touts that county’s growing economic ties with South Korea and an upcoming business trip to East Asia.
By Tony Catalfano
Americans will spend nearly $640 billion this holiday season. More than 37 percent of purchases will be made with credit cards. Seventy percent of consumers plan to give gift cards, bringing gift card spending to nearly $30 billion. Astonishingly, 70 percent of each credit swipe is processed in Georgia, and gift cards are mostly powered by local companies.
The Financial Transaction Processing (FTP) industry provides the infrastructure for, and processing of, financial transactions that take place every time a debit card is used for groceries, calls are made with a prepaid card or gas is bought on a credit card. Atlanta’s National Data Corp.created the industry during the 1960s with groundbreaking developments in payment systems, followed closely by First Data. Payment processing, which will reach $65 billion by 2015, is the industry core, and Georgia is its hub, with nearly 60 percent of the 135 billion global payments being processed here last year.
Georgia companies are positioned to remain pioneers as merchant point-of-sale devices and management of big financial data evolve and as mobile commerce transactions balloon to $600 billion in 2013. Georgia is home to more than 70 FTP companies including merchant acquirers and card processors WorldPay, Elavon, First Data and Global Payments; prepaid card leader InComm; point-of-sale device manufacturer NCR; retail banking solution providers Fiserv and Intuit; identity, analytics and risk firm Equifax, and countless support entities.
U.S. innovation will drive future global growth, especially where credit card penetration is low. More than 40,000 employees and another 105,000 working for Georgia companies around the world already manage financial transactions for 15 million global card-enabled merchants.
The FTP industry is vital yet unknown in the state, especially compared to other sectors. Nineteen federal agencies regulate FTP companies, creating laws and administrative requirements with the potential to cripple innovation and make us less globally competitive. As a result, Georgia’s congressional delegation and state leaders have the unique opportunity to protect, nourish and grow “Transaction Alley,” which is poised to become a renowned cornerstone of our economy.
That’s why WorldPay and several leading companies recently launched the American Transaction Processors Coalition. We will tell our story to elected leaders and try to ensure their legislation does not harm industry growth. At the same time, we plan to seek university partnerships to train necessary IT workers, especially as places like Silicon Valley, New York and Denver invest in infrastructure and graduate retention programs.
This season, consumers can make purchases confident that their data is secure, and give gift cards that never need returning, all because of Georgia’s best-kept economic secret. Elected officials work hard recruiting new companies to Georgia but can rest easy knowing the transaction processing industry and its high-paying, stable jobs are already here, wrapped neatly with a bow under our holiday tree waiting, to be opened.
Tony Catalfano, CEO of WorldPay, is a founding member of the American Transaction Processors Coalition.
Gwinnett-Korea relationship grows global business
By Daniel J. Kaufman
Partnership Gwinnett — the county’s community and economic development initiative housed in the Gwinnett Chamber — works collectively with businesses, government, education and community leaders to support job growth and economic and community development. A key component of this initiative is the design and implementation of an aggressive, multi-faceted, international business development program.
Partnership Gwinnett formed the Gwinnett Global Business Council to increase direct foreign investment in the Atlanta area and to support the recruitment and expansion of internationally based companies. Today, the council supports more than 500 international companies in Gwinnett County.
Globally recognized for best practices by the International Economic Development Council, Gwinnett is an exemplary location for international companies looking to expand their global reach. The county is home to 575 international businesses representing more than 40 countries. Of these businesses, more than 20 percent have Asian roots.
The goal of Partnership Gwinnett’s efforts is simple: Increase foreign investment in Gwinnett while seeking opportunities for existing industries to expand. Developing relationships with partners in South Korea not only provides international business opportunities, but leverages two thriving economies to support economic stability.
In January 2008, the former mayor and delegates from for the Gangnam district of Seoul, South Korea, visited Gwinnett County. This successful visit led to the signing in June 2009 of a sister-community agreement involving the Gwinnett County Commission, Gwinnett Chamber and Gangnam.
Global business development is all about establishing and nurturing relationships. The sister-community agreement with Gangnam means Gwinnett now has a direct connection through which the chamber can offer business-to-business trade and investment opportunities. This union enables county businesses to expand their global industries and network with South Korea, the 13th-largest economy in the world.
This spring, the Gwinnett Chamber will travel to South Korea, providing business networking opportunities through meetings, seminars and trade talks in some of that country’s most economically renowned communities. The trip, May 12-18, has three goals:
•Recruit, retain and expand companies in the county’s five target industries: advanced manufacturing, headquarters and professional services, health sciences and services, information technology solutions and supply chain management.
•Develop trade and business opportunities for existing Gwinnett, metro Atlanta and Georgia companies.
•Provide educational and cultural experiences for trip participants.
Gwinnett’s relationship with South Korea increases foreign direct investment and accelerates global business growth. The Gwinnett Chamber looks forward to continuing this relationship to create more opportunities for local business relationships in the global market.
Daniel J. Kaufman is president of the Gwinnett Chamber.