Georgia Fintech Academy

Episode 27: Atlantic Capital as a fintech enabler, Chris Stanley, SVP Fintech Atlantic Capital and Zach Schneiderman, UGA

October 22, 2020 Georgia Fintech Academy Season 1 Episode 27
Georgia Fintech Academy
Episode 27: Atlantic Capital as a fintech enabler, Chris Stanley, SVP Fintech Atlantic Capital and Zach Schneiderman, UGA
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Georgia Fintech Academy
Episode 27: Atlantic Capital as a fintech enabler, Chris Stanley, SVP Fintech Atlantic Capital and Zach Schneiderman, UGA
Oct 22, 2020 Season 1 Episode 27
Georgia Fintech Academy

Chris Stanley the SVP of Fintech at Atlantic Capital Bank joins Zach Schneiderman a sophmore at University of Georgia to discuss Atlantic Capital's role in supporting fintech company growth in the USA. 

Show Notes Transcript

Chris Stanley the SVP of Fintech at Atlantic Capital Bank joins Zach Schneiderman a sophmore at University of Georgia to discuss Atlantic Capital's role in supporting fintech company growth in the USA. 

Speaker 1:

Welcome to the Georgia FinTech Academy podcast. The Georgia FinTech Academy is a collaboration between Georgia's FinTech industry and the university system of Georgia. This talent development initiative addresses a massive demand for FinTech professionals and give learners the specialized education experiences needed to enter the FinTech .

Speaker 2:

This is episode 27 of our Georgia FinTech Academy podcast. Today is October the 22nd, 2020. And I have two guests with me today. Chris Stanley, the senior vice president of FinTech and Atlantic capital and Zach Schneiderman, university of Georgia go dogs sophomore. Welcome to you both.

Speaker 3:

Thanks Tommy. Good to be here and thanks for having me.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, absolutely. Um, let's get into our conversation, Chris. I wanted you to have a chance to introduce yourself and, you know, we have a lot of student listeners and we love to hear the career stories of successful FinTech executives like yourself. Uh, tell us what, what that career path has been for you.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, happy to. Um, so again, Chris Stanley and I grew up , uh , here in Atlanta , uh, went to , uh , Georgia tech for , for undergraduate and from there , um , started working with Coca-Cola , um , not a particularly sexy job, but , um, it was a job that paid decently well and, you know, it never hurts to have Coca Cola on your resume. Um, so I worked there for three years, really their operations , uh , center it's, you know, it's, it's probably like two steps up from a call center. So if you can imagine kind of what that environment might be like. Um, but it was good experience and, you know, learned a lot about kind of the op you know, obviously the operational side of Coke and how the inner workings there, but at the same time , um, you know, having 15 managers , uh, between a decision and multiple meetings , uh, to reach some sort of conclusion was not particularly exciting and that, you know, working for a very large company like that , um, you know, could be a little bit constraining. And , uh, I was interested in finance and I went back to just state , um, MBA for their , um , Robinson college of business program , uh, with a degree in finance and about that same time , uh , moved from Coca-Cola to a company called AGCO AGCO finance, which is up in , uh Deluce um, Zach , you being where you're from you , you may know it , uh, if you right there on Peachtree industrial Boulevard , uh , you pass and you see two or three big tractors right. In front of their corporate headquarters.

Speaker 1:

Yeah . Um , so, and now it's working

Speaker 3:

Fine. So they're a competitor to John Deere and case. I think they're number three in the world, you know, farming and industrial equipment. And so it was working in their finance division , uh, started off financing, very small tractors to kind of mom and pop type, you know, very small farmers. Um, and over the course of the couple of few years there, you know, was financing half million dollar, you know, multiple pieces of large equipment. And so that was a really good introduction and finance , uh, you know, and I enjoyed that, but at the same time, large company, didn't see a lot of room for advancement and giving my, given my brand new shiny degree thought I would go and see what the world might have to offer. Um, and I ended up a little bit of luck , um, a little bit of , uh, maybe intent, intent, intentional , uh , looking, but ended up at a bank called Silicon Valley bank. Uh, Silicon Valley bank is kind of the 800 pound gorilla in the technology world. They've been around for 40 years, they're publicly traded. Um, but they are known for, you know, a exclusively working with technology companies, but B more importantly is how to work with them as a bank, so they can get more comfortable lending to these early stage companies than a more traditional type bank can. Um, and so I was there for about six or seven years and, you know, which puts me now in the technology space , uh , for about 15 years. But, you know, through that experience is really , uh, you know, how I got to know the technology community , um, how to work with them, what their day-to-day lives look like. Um, you know, it was lending money anywhere from half a million dollars to, you know, 25 or $30 million , uh , dollars. And, you know, that could be a company that , uh, doesn't have much more than a PowerPoint. And an idea such as when I first met a company in town, we have here called Cardlytics. Um, they came to me in 2008 with a PowerPoint. And, you know, if you think about the recession was going on at that point , um, we were able to sort of stretch cause we liked them and they put, they were trying to, we were able to do their very first loan to them. Wow. And continue that relationship for , um, you know, the whole time I was there. In fact, they hired their first 10 developers in my office cause they hadn't yet found office space here in Atlanta. Um, you know, and they are now ,

Speaker 2:

Uh, what Cardlytics , uh , public now did an IPO maybe almost four years ago or three. And is now what, 2.2 I'm checking the finance, right . Google finance right now, 2.2 billion market cap. That's right .

Speaker 3:

They went out three years ago, I think at 250 million market cap. And they've, you know, eight X, nine X that in a very short period of time. So that's a really cool story. So, you know, you got to be, I was able to be a meaningful part of their success. Um, and you , it's very cool to watch the company grow from two people in a PowerPoint to, you know, publicly traded company. And knowing that you kind of had a hand, a hand in that , um, so worked with those types of companies , um, and you know, sort of by default ended up,

Speaker 4:

You know, part probably

Speaker 3:

Because of them to some, some extent, but ended up just kind of focusing on payments and FinTech companies before FinTech was a word or a commonly used a buzz word . Um, and so, you know, working with those types of companies, you see, it's exciting what they're doing. It's innovative, it's fun. And so about a six or seven years into that banking role, I decided to , uh, jump ship and try the other side of the equation. And, you know, I've built up a strong network

Speaker 4:

Is able to pretty quickly

Speaker 3:

We began working with companies , um , really on a consulting basis, but companies who needed someone that had experience, I mean, these, these companies are fast-growing , um, you know , it's evolving day to day, they're worried about, do they have enough money or they raised enough money to support their business. They're worried about competitors. They're worried about getting new products out , um, and you know, you wear multiple hats and do multiple roles every single day. And so, you know, I was able to kind of leverage that and work with , uh, you know, two or three companies, you know, a growth stage company that needed an interim CFO was able to help them with their begin , their fundraising process. Um, you know , it was a healthcare company helped raise their , uh, $10 million in equity for them. And then, you know, found some additional capital to go on top of that equity. Um, and really, you know, got a lot of good operational , uh , experience doing that, helping them do product , not only finance, but helping with new products, et cetera. Um, you know, and it's funny, you might say, how do you transition from banker to CFO? Well, it's a good question. I did not do it either. Um, and I remember on the first day when they said here's your office, you know, get to it and he shut the door. I was like, I have no idea what the hell I'm doing

Speaker 4:

Zero. Like, what am I supposed to do ?

Speaker 3:

I mean, I can renegotiate their bank loan, which I did. So that was a , that was some low-hanging fruit. But , uh, beyond that , uh, you know, it took a little bit to get acclimated, but fortunately I have some good friends in the industry and I said, Hey, I just came in or I'm CFO, what are you supposed to do now?

Speaker 4:

And , uh , able to help out.

Speaker 3:

And , um, did that for a few years and then worked for a early stage FinTech company here in town. I went full-time with them. I was about the fifth employee. Um, had a great idea, joined the company. And part of, one of the hats I wore in addition to payroll and finance and, you know , building out a inside sales team was finding FinTech or, you know, a FinTech like bank partnership. And this was in 2015. And even though most people think banks move really slow, which can often be the case. Uh, the banking world's changed quite a bit , uh, and just in that short five years. Um, and so this was kind of at the beginning of that, and you'd talk to banks and they say , Hey, this seems like a really cool idea, but it's going to take us like five years to even analyze it and review it. And when you're a early stage company burning, you know, couple of hundred thousand dollars a month, you don't have five years. Um, and so really that kind of led into, I started talking with , uh, an old colleague of mine who had worked with at Silicon Valley bank. And when I left to go to the company side, he had come to Atlantic capital bank to build out a payments business , uh , for us. And , uh, you know, we were taught , he was working mostly with non-tech companies who were moving high volumes of money, hundreds or millions of transactions per month. And , uh, you know, as we started talking about sort of the gaps and opportunity we saw in the market, then I joined Atlanta capital three years ago to leverage what he had built and it's focus specifically on FinTech. Um, you know, when I walked in, we were a top 50 bank by payments volume. So that is a good foundation to step into and leverage to work with fintechs , um, versus, you know, some of the other banks out there that, you know, did not have historically have any touch points with technology. And then now they're trying to do it. And some of them, some of them, some of them are doing it well, and maybe not some, not so much, but I was fortunate to have this strong foundation. And so that's what I've been doing here.

Speaker 2:

Awesome. And let's come back to Atlantic capital in a minute , um, and , uh , and get in a bit more to, to that. Uh, but Zach , tell us, tell us about you. Alright .

Speaker 5:

My name is [inaudible] , I'm from Johns Creek, Georgia, and I'm currently a sophomore at UGA. I am a finance major, and then next semester I am applying to be also a management information systems major. And then I'm also planning on applying for the fintechs certificate program here at Georgia. Um, one of the things that have really brought me to the FinTech space is coming to UGA. I knew I wanted to go into finance, but I really wasn't sure what specifically I wanted to do within finance. And I started exploring different areas. I started exploring other Teri majors , um, within the Terry school of business or the Terry college of business. And I came across management information systems. And the more I learned about it, the more I liked it, which made me want to learn more. And then I discovered FinTech and how a lot of these startup companies are looking to solve issues regarding person to person , um, financial transactions. And it's basically changing the way that , um, money is being transferred among individuals and companies at all. And so I was like, this is really cool. This is a really fascinating space that's growing. And I knew I had to get involved. And this past year I joined the , uh, the Terry FinTech society . And it's been great so far.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it's been, it's been great. Getting connected to you , uh, from the, from my role in the, in the Georgia FinTech Academy. And we've had, as the FinTech Academy had a lot of influence and focus on helping , um, Bob Trotter who teaches the foundations of FinTech course at UGA Boller on who teaches the financial technologies course at UGA and helped structuring this FinTech certificate that you're, I know you're going to go after, and as that's been evolving, you know, in terms of conversations that I know I'm in constantly with the large FinTech providers in, in Georgia , um, the FinTech companies that are all over the country, all over the world. And then also in conversations with , um, even smaller emerging FinTech companies, they're , they're constantly looking for folks that , um, are, are, have the interest that you just , uh, that you just focused on or, or , um, brought to bear. So this finance plus MIS , um, that kind of people that are getting engaged in , uh, those are those areas from , uh, from their studies are, I know really of great interest to all of these , uh , FinTech companies or robbery . So I think you're gonna , I think I'm glad you've got passionate around that. I think you're going to enjoy it a lot, and there's some really tremendous resources that , uh , for you to access that know you're starting to access in terms of getting plugged in , uh , in meaningful ways to the industry. So , um , I'm excited to see how this story , uh , continues to play out for you Zach, over the next , um, couple of years. And , uh, and I know as we were prepping for the call, you'd mentioned that you're looking for an internship. So I'm going to make a call out now to all of you folks that are employers listening. Uh, just let me know, and I can get you hooked up with Zach . Uh, but he's looking to , uh, get involved with an internship , uh, at one of our great , uh, FinTech companies. So we're gonna Zach , we're going to make that happen. Um, and then Zach , um, you know, as we're talking to here , you know, come, come at us with any questions you got. Cause we know you really represent the voice of the student in our podcast here. So maybe to get us started, let's talk a little bit more. And I guess, Chris, thanks for all that context on your career. I , I thought was interesting. There were a couple of times I wanted to break in, particularly on the Coca-Cola starting point on like, what's your favorite Coke product. You can tell me now, or

Speaker 4:

I will tell you what you should not do if you work at Coca Cola is on your first week.

Speaker 3:

Cause job, you go into a large group meeting with folks you've never really met before. And you walk in with a brand new, fresh, cold fruit Topia

Speaker 4:

Turns out it does not make fruit Topia, which is a PepsiCo product . Maybe I don't know. Yes.

Speaker 3:

I , I , I, I found that out about half a footstep through the door, everyone looked at me like I was insane. And literally somebody is like, you gotta get that out of here, right?

Speaker 4:

Yeah . Yeah.

Speaker 3:

That was kind of the quick learner learning lesson. Don't roll into a meeting with a fruit Topia, unless you work here .

Speaker 2:

That's the only thing you could have done that would have been worse would have been to actually walk into the meeting with a Pepsi. Right.

Speaker 3:

Well, one other thing I did very shortly thereafter was they needed some additional folks. And so I referred a good friend that I graduated high school with and, you know, respect to et cetera . And it was his first job. And he came in and did a great job for three days and then never showed up again. My name was bud.

Speaker 4:

Those are some just quick to not do.

Speaker 2:

And , and just a good reminder that you can, you can, you got a lot of opportunities to fail, right? When you come out of school. So, you know, don't panic, there's lots , there's lots of room to then become, you know , phenomenally successful. Um, but Tom , tell us more about Chris. Tell us just more about you got into it a little bit around Atlanta capital bank. Um, but I think, you know, Atlantic capital banks would kind of a great story headquartered here in Atlanta. Um,

Speaker 4:

You know , making difference, finding support,

Speaker 2:

Well , variety of different , um, uh, companies , um, throughout our ecosystem and, and beyond tell us more about Atlanta capital bank and then Dallas in on , uh, kind of these real, kind of the real sweet spot the banks found in the marketplace. Yup ,

Speaker 3:

Sure. Um, so yes, Lana capital bank headquartered here in Atlanta in Buckhead next to the Lenox mall. Um, we were founded in 2006 by ex kind of Wacovia , uh , executives. So they had worked, you know, international markets and, and various kind of high role positions like that. And, you know, thinking about what was going on at that time, it was a boom before the recession, you know, money was flowing freely, thanks for getting a little bit out of hand. And so they really wanted to start a bank that had big bank capabilities , um, but still had that community bank level , um, service and kind of high touch relationship , um, based orientation. Um, and so that's what they did. Uh, we raised 125 million for which I believe is still the largest , uh, that a new bank has raised. Um, and quickly thereafter the bottom fell out of the economy. So interesting time to be a fresh bank, didn't have any bad loans to worry about. Um, but at the same time, folks weren't really lending much. Um, so we were able to do that and gained a lot of like good, you know, Marcie Atlanta clients, because we were open for business when most were not. Um, and, you know, with the , uh, the founding thesis of being big, having big bank capabilities , uh , we, we spent a lot of that capital and put it into our backend infrastructure , um, so that we could serve as these, you know, commercial corporate clients in the same manner that they had been accustomed to from the big banks. Um, and, you know, to that end, we primarily only are a commercial bank. We don't have really a consumer retail presence to speak of other than some private banking services for our CEO clients. Um, so you know, that, like I said , that was 2006, seven, eight , um, continued to grow primarily in a traditional kind of banking way. You know, working with companies here in Atlanta for their bank, you know, treasury banking needs, their lending needs, you know, law firms, construction, et cetera , uh, very contradictional looking , uh, you know, companies and banking practices , uh, and then went public in 2015, I believe , um, and traded on NASDAQ as ACPI. Um, and then kind of along that way, probably 2012, 15, that range , um, you know , we're a bank, that's always trying to think, you know , we , you know, our philosophy is hire very smart people , um, to hire experts who know what they're doing and be open-minded, you know, we're pretty flat organization. We don't have 15 layers. I can go to the decision-makers down the hall and, you know, reach a decision pretty quickly, which is not always typical for a bank. Um, but you know, we see growth opportunities and try to capitalize on them. And, you know, one of the first was the SBA, small business administration lending where the Gover the government, you know, will guarantee a portion of the loan. And they do that in an effort to, you know, help small businesses get off the ground. So it might be a one or two or $3 million loan and you underwrite it just like you would as a bank. And then the government will come in and guarantee 80% of it. Um, that's a very big business for us. We're now a national , uh, we have a national presence in our top 100 SBA lender in the country. Uh, another kind of specialty was franchise lending. So we, you know , hired someone who had a great experience in that. And, you know, we work with Dunkin donuts around the country, Zaxby's orange theories , um, folks like that. And so that's a big practice. And then the third one, which I had spoken a little bit about was his payments group that SVB colleague had started. Um, and, you know, primarily that's working with payroll companies, as you might imagine, there's a lot of high volume amount number of payments . You know, these employers are paying their thousands and thousands of employees. So each payroll company may be servicing two or three or 400, or, you know , million plus actual, you know, employee consumers. Um, and, you know, like say I came in to leverage that foundation , um, to build our FinTech practice. And what that has meant is it's working with FinTech companies around the country and it's allowing them to move their money, you know, effectively, efficiently, and hopefully a little bit more cost efficiently, but as most importantly, in a compliant manner. Um, and so without going into too many boring details, you know, if you are a company that's moving other people's money,

Speaker 6:

You must, you primarily,

Speaker 3:

You would have to classify yourself as a money service business, and you would have to go through this process of getting licenses for each state, 50 States. Plus the government is a very time consuming and expensive process. It could take, you know , one, two years and cost , you know, one or $2 million. Um, and for someone like Western union, that makes sense their whole entire reason for existing is to move people's money. Um, but if you're a FinTech company that, you know, your reason for existing is helping , um, you know, consumers save more money or helping them pay down their debt or helping them make faster payments. That's what you're there for. And money movement happens to be an ancillary or kind of secondary component of your business model, right? So are you , uh, you know, money , service business or not. And so, you know, as a bank, we have license to move money all day long. That's what a bank charter allows you to do. And so we can partner with these fintechs, let them do what they're really good at, which is providing superior technology and a better consumer experience. And let us handle the sort of regulatory and compliance component of that partnership. So instead of them getting those , those licenses yet , and we already have it , we know what we're doing there, we will do that component. And so that's how we partner with them. And in order to do that, if you know, the analogy I kind of use sometimes is, you know, think about Airbnb. If you're going to rent out a room in your house, you're going to have some certain standards that you want to make sure are up to par , um, who you're renting that house out to, you know, you do a background check, you, you know, make sure that that criminals, you know, questionable pass that sort of thing. So in a very similar vein as a bank, if we are going to allow these fintechs to be in this certain type of structure, then we have to make sure that their practices are exactly the same as ours. You know, they're getting social security numbers and emails and addresses, and they're doing periodic checks with the, with the , uh , office of foreign control, which, you know, that's the terrorist list or the sanctions list and make sure that they're not doing business with those types of folks. And so that's really where, what we do comes in , uh, and is a little bit different. You're wrapping this whole compliance and regulatory layer around it. Um , and so we work with companies that need that structure, and they're doing bill payment, they're doing corporate payments, they're doing savings debt, et cetera. Uh, and so it's fun. You get to work with a lot of , uh, really cool and innovative companies who are sort of pushing the envelope , um, in terms of how these things are done.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. That's um, that's great overview, and I know, I guess is, is , um, I had an opportunity to work with you on some different things out in the ecosystem. Like the innovation challenge that we just did within textile . There's just so much, I mean, I can just see the growth opportunities for your practice and for Atlantic capital bank. I mean, if you just take like this one slice of this marketplace, that's taught , we talk about un-banked serving on bank serving underbanked , and there's just this for , I guess, from my perspective, a proliferation now of , um, FinTech, new FinTech companies that are coming on the scene, looking to , um, you know, do what you were talking about, like how to really come up with an outstanding customer experience too , that it's addressing a real need in that kind of broader financial inclusion , uh, part of the market. And , um, you know , you, and I know we've seen so many of these companies , uh , just different than that companies come on the scene that, you know, will not understand the complexities of being a money service business. And we'll begin to kind of quickly understand those complexities and can quickly become overwhelmed by them and realize that, okay, it's just not worth their time and treasure to try to get, you know, an MSB license or get certified by, you know, even 24 States. And by getting into a partnership with , uh , with a bank like yours can really , uh, accelerate their go to market and allow them to focus where , um, their time and treasure is really better spent, which is on , uh, you know, acquiring customers , um, going, you know, building the value prop, building the customer experience. So it just makes total sense to me. Um, that's great, but that, let me let you get in here. Um, w questions , questions from you. So I guess to start out , um, how does a bank front like yours? Like how have they seen FinTech perform like over the last six months with like, COVID, because I would think that at first glance that a lot of startups

Speaker 5:

Might be struggling , um, and they would need that type of financial support to allow them to continue to grow. Um, but I guess I just want to know what you've seen. Yeah ,

Speaker 3:

No, that's a good question. Um, I mean, it's really interesting this whole pandemic. I mean, it's obviously unprecedented to use that word for the millions time, but it , it really has created this dual economy and you've probably seen that in some headlines or, you know, you've got this one demographic that's working from home and doing fine, and you've got this other demographic that, you know, certainly not so much. Um, and there's still a lot of uncertainty around what things are gonna look like in three, six, nine months, you know, between the election and vaccines and, you know, a second, you know, spreading event, that sort of things, there's still a lot of uncertainty. Um, but the FinTech and payments world, this has been a boon for them. I mean, we have seen like every single client do the best numbers they've ever done , um , month over month or quarter over quarter. Um, you know, people are home more. So they're thinking about their finances. You know, they're either home bore and they have the ability to think about it or they're out of work. And they're really thinking about it. Um, you know, they decision makers are more readily available work from home. So if you're a FinTech company, all it's being equal, you can get things done a little bit more quickly. Um, and you know, and then just the nature of the pandemic has forced adoption. In some regards, you know, you might have a little old lady that has gone into her branch forever, but for three months, she had to figure out how to use the app. Um, and so you've got this proliferation of companies that are addressing all of these needs, moving money or saving money or analyzing your, your bank account, how you spend it. And so I think all of this is just more top of mind combined with you're sort of forced into adopting. Um, Hey , there's gotta be a more efficient way to do this. Um, so the , like I say, FinTech and payments is , has been doing great. And even from a capital raise perspective, there were a few months, you know, between March and, you know, probably call it June or July where I think everyone just hit the pause button , uh, venture capital firms, other types of investors, banks, you know, in regards to lending , um, everyone sort of hit the pause button, but you know, in the last, probably two months I've seeing , uh, everyone's like, Hey, yeah , we can't sit around forever. We've got to continue doing business regardless of what this thing looks like. And if you just sit around and wait for it to be over, you're going to find yourself at the back of the pack, you know, when it finally is over. Um, and so, you know, I , I can think of three or four examples right off the top of my head of companies. Who've gotten significant funding in the past for six weeks. You know, that ranges from growth stage who often do have a little easier time getting money, but also several early stage companies who haven't even launched a product yet. So it's just been really interesting that , um, you know, you've kind of got these dual paths, but, you know, pins , FinTech and payments , uh , is strong. And he , I was just, I saw a presentation the other day by a very large , uh, bank partner provider. And, you know, the headline on one of the pages was we believe every company will become a FinTech company. So you're adding payments, you're adding some component of this to your business model.

Speaker 5:

Yeah. That's interesting.

Speaker 2:

So a good, a good, so you've chosen a good industry to focus on that . Yeah ,

Speaker 3:

I think so for once in my life, I finally got a little bit lucky.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. And you , you both have chosen good and she's focused on , um, yeah, it's a bit, I mean, the, I think back to the last financial crisis to 2008 through really, I guess, 2010 and , um, there was, there was all , that was also a period where we saw a lot of new FinTech companies born that. I mean, some of the biggest that you think of today, like square for instance, were born in that period. And , um, there's, you know, consistently, you know, I guess you hate to say recession proof, I guess fingers crossed in this, you know, this, this industry has largely proven itself to , um, really continue to either do well. And in some cases thrive in the midst of these , uh , financial crisis. Um, what else that ,

Speaker 5:

Um, I guess what would you give, I guess for advice for people who are underclassmen college age? Um, so I guess the freshmen and sophomores who are looking to break into the FinTech industry, because one thing that I've noticed is at least at UGA, the most common platform for looking for opportunities is handshake. And one thing that I've noticed is there, aren't a whole lot of FinTech things out there on handshake, and it's, it's not like finance where you can just key word financing pages and pages of things will come up. So I guess what might be your advice for people like in similar to my position? Yeah.

Speaker 3:

A few easy things come to mind. Um, number one, do something as simple as like read the wall street journal, read something like that to keep abreast of what's going on. Um, there's a couple of local newsletter or new local and national newsletters that come out weekly. Uh, you know, I know Tommy's certainly familiar, but you've got , uh , Atlanta Inno and I believe each city has one they're part of like the Atlanta business Chronicle. And, you know, there's a business Chronicle in each big city, so they have, you know, Denver and , you know, and San Francisco, et cetera , but those are a weekly newsletter , uh , email, you know, they usually have three or four quick stories and then two or three links of, you know, press releases or news. And it's a super easy way just to kind of keep your finger on the pulse of what's going on. And it takes, you know, three minutes a week to , to read through this. Um, there's another one in town called hypodermis . Um, they send out a weekly newsletter, very similar, but I mean, just those couple of things, you'll be five steps ahead of everyone else just by knowing what's going on. Um, in terms of, you know, the fact that we can't have virtual on handshake, you know , I guess it depends on your particular personal disposition, but I remember the first handful of networking events I went to, I basically sat in the corner and pretended to look at my phone because I didn't know what I was supposed to be talking about with these folks and have a lot to talk about because I was new into it. So those simple acts of, you know, reading and keeping, you know, we finger on the pulse of , of what's going on, that gives you something to talk about, you know, Hey, did you see this news? What do you think about that? And then that's just kind of a natural conversation starter where you don't feel dumb because you've got, you know, you're talking about something real and current and relevant. Um, you know, and beyond that is just , I mean, hopefully this, this virtual , uh , environment won't last, terribly too much, terribly longer, but there's a lot of great organizations , uh , here in Atlanta. And I know there's something in Athens and , um, and Savannah and Chattanooga , uh, around the state, but there's some great organizations that, you know, their mission is to , um, provide content and make introductions and make connections. And, you know, they might do a monthly or quarterly , um, sort of networking event with our hub two or three, you know, known speakers or subject matter experts, talk about what's going on in their world. Um, those are great events to attend virtually or in person, but just kind of putting yourself out there. You know, Tommy obviously works with a lot of folks and we just recently completed , um, what's called FinTech South large

Speaker 4:

Conference, Tommy ad

Speaker 3:

Nauseum on this podcast potentially, but it was a , uh , you know, it was a large four day conference. We had, you know, a few thousand , uh, attendees virtually , um, and you know, we had a pitch contest, 10 companies pitched and got mentored and there was a winner chosen with a $25,000 check. Um ,

Speaker 4:

Yeah , Tommy

Speaker 3:

Had put us in touch with one of his students who jumped right in and, you know , helped in any way he could and volunteered to do that. And I know he learned a ton from it and I talked to him about once a week now, and I know he's learned a ton and made some really good connections. And I think just hearing people talk about this is kind of the easiest thing, Tommy, I don't know if you have anything to add to that. Well, I guess

Speaker 2:

Certainly to plug the Georgia FinTech Academy, I mean, a core part of our mission is helping you as students get jobs in these FinTech companies. I mean, to me, and to me, that's the most important metric I track every day is like, how many students have we helped get an internship or a job in FinTech? So we're kind of here to serve you the so that's, you know , certainly engaged with us and you have been, and the Terry FinTech Academy is, and, you know, we've got a whole network we're building out and also helping students help students because that's critical to , you know, we've got our kind of first class of FinTech Academy students from the system that are now getting jobs. We want them to now pull through more students now that they're in the organization and the organizations want them to do that too. Um, cause they, they need you all badly. Um, there is really remarkable demand. Uh, in fact, I've just met many of these larger FinTech companies have just shared with me their forecast , they're hiring forecast reports for this , um, this kind of year they're in, which starts in July and ends in June. And every single one of those forecasts is showing growth year on year. So they need, they need more of you from , uh , we do also take all, I go through all the FinTech , um, or I go through all the job leads that are in handshake every week and I call out the ones, cause I know what's FinTech and not FinTech cause it's not flagged that way, particularly in NJ . And then I put all that into a spreadsheet that we publish on our website. So there's a kind of a bit of a curated list , um , off our website as well. And then I've had the handshake people just getting back to handshake there's that is a really remarkable platform it's available to you, all students, the handshake people have given me good guidance to , to , to share with you all to say, really spend time on your handshake profile and make sure you're saying FinTech, FinTech, FinTech in your profile because there that will also attract more of the companies that participate in handshake to you. And I know for certain now, like PayPal, PayPal will only look at students that are on handshake. Like they're not going anywhere else, these a similar story. So , um, you know, take the time to really make sure you're getting your right kind of keywords and whatnot in your handshake profile. And then hopefully that will create some opportunities for you.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. And I would add, you know, if you're talking about specific kind of keywords, I would add payments to that as well. Yeah. You know , and then to your point about student pool through on the, on the employer side, you know, I can tell you a hundred percent fact, every employer much rather get a new employee from the referral of a current employee. Absolutely.

Speaker 2:

Um, well let's wrap up in a minute maybe just to touch on , uh , FinTech news. That's caught our eye and the last , uh , week , um, I'll start with you, Chris. What's , what's caught your attention.

Speaker 3:

Um , two couple of things come to mind that I saw, I think one yesterday and one, a couple days before that, but , um, you know, chase, chase bank has rolled out a new program called chase first banking , um, for kids. And they're doing that via Greenlight who I believe you may have mentioned on this podcast before, but you know, well-known company in Atlanta that provides debit card for kids, he's raised a lot of money , um, but they are now going to the larger banks and, you know, kind of offering their platform for those banks. Um, so that was really interesting , um, to see a large bank adopting, something like that. I mean, it just shows you that they're continuing to think , try to think ahead of the curve and be reactive or hopefully proactive. Um, and then the other really big news, you know , I don't know if anyone on this call , uh, trades in any cryptocurrencies, but you might have , if you do, you might've noticed a large spike yesterday and that was a result of PayPal announcing they will now permit , uh , Bitcoin , uh , trade or, you know, transactions , uh , on their platforms . So you can store Bitcoin and make purchases , um , with Bitcoin. And I believe it was something like 25 plus million merchants that, you know, that will be active with. So that's a really big deal because crypto is, yeah , it is going more mainstream, but still something that banks are pretty, pretty , uh, scared of or hesitant to get involved with. There's only probably, you know, half dozen or so banks in the country that are really heavy into it. Um, and so someone like PayPal was three, 400 million users getting into it, I think is adds a lot of, you know , validation and further evidence that crypto and digital is coming. It's just a matter of, you know, when it fully goes wide mainstream,

Speaker 2:

Zach , did you see that news on PayPal?

Speaker 5:

Yeah. And one thing I noticed is it wasn't just Bitcoin. That was up, I think Bitcoin was up, I think 13% this past week. Um, but I've also seen like Ethiopia, Ethereum , um, so by good bit, and it's really interesting. And I think that it would not surprise me if some of PayPal's competitors like Venmo or other types of , um, pure like person to person money transfer , um, starts to adapt with cryptocurrency to try and gain back market share. And I think a big reason for why I'm like, I think a big reason why PayPal is doing that with crypto has to do with the fact that they're trying to gather some of the market share from like the gen Z and the millennial generations, because those are the generations that have been sort of following more. Like they grow up, they've grown up. They remember like in high school or middle school , um, when the big, when Bitcoin like exploded up words. And , um, I remember at least I think I was like a

Speaker 2:

Sophomore in high school. We were all talking me and my friends were talking about how Bitcoin was just going up and up and up. And we knew it was a bubble. We had no idea when it was going to crash and you know, that that interest that's come around about cryptocurrency and the younger generations, I think, are what these companies are trying to collect. And so by offering cryptocurrency transfers or to be able to buy things with crypto, I think that's a bit of a game changer for a lot of these peer to peer money transfer . And then I'm very interested to see this on this PayPal announcement in particular, what's the impact you're gonna pee on are on BitPay, which is a , you know, almost 10 year old company here, but out near neighborhood, they're headquartered out in Alpharetta. Um, and to see, I mean, they're the number, the number one the first to do , um, merchant acquiring of, of cryptocurrency payments. And , uh, I just don't know. I'm really curious, based on this PayPal announcement, like how's it, is that a big Bo big bump? Is that big plus for BitPay? Is it very [inaudible] ? Um , these are the questions I have in my mind now that I want to try to figure out , um, what those are. Those are great highlights in terms of the news. Um, and I want to thank you both for being on this week. Thanks for your engagement , uh, with the Georgia FinTech Academy, you're always welcome. Um, thanks for everything you do, Chris, to support the FinTech Academy and our ecosystem. And we are excited to be involved with Atlanta capital bank and want to continue to do that. And then Zach , uh, we're here for you , let us know what we can do. Um, and , uh, we're looking just excited for yourself and students like you getting involved in , uh, in this industry.

Speaker 1:

Thank you, Tommy . I always enjoy , uh , doing these types of things with you and, you know , hopefully it was helpful and Zach or anyone else not always free to reach out on iTunes and Spotify to obtain additional information about the Georgia FinTech Academy. Please visit our [email protected]