This week marks the kickoff of the Technology Association of Georgia’s fifth annual Fintech South Innovation Challenge. The winner will walk away with a non-dilutive $50,000 cash prize – if there’s a bigger award being offered in any similar US competition, we’re unaware of it. Perhaps more importantly, the winner – as well as other standout participants – will benefit from significant exposure to key players across the spectrum of Georgia’s thriving fintech ecosystem and admission into the prestigious fintech catalyst ‘Accelerate’ program at Georgia Tech’s Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC).

The four-week program includes a crash course in topics essential to any early-stage entrepreneur, delivered by leaders in the fields of public relations, venture capital and legal/regulatory issues. Each weekly session also includes working time with industry mentors who assist in honing business models and messaging.

These sessions build toward a Pitch Night, at which each company presents its offering to a panel of judges comprised of fintech veterans experienced in evaluating such propositions for their respective firms. Three finalists will be selected to present their ideas to a crowd of roughly 1,500 at FinTech South at Mercedes Benz Stadium on April 23. The vote of the FinTech South audience will help determine the ultimate winner.

This year’s 24 applicants were so strong that the coordinating committee made a last-minute decision to expand the field to 12 participants from the usual 8:

  • Agora Services – A cloud enabled facilitator of community banks’ digital experience
  • Arcanum – Secure password management through an innovative interface
  • Birch Global – A P2P marketplace for digital term notices, including an analytics platform
  • CapWay – Fosters financial inclusion by combing a low-fee transaction account with financial education
  • Esgro – A mobile-based escrow solution for gig economy workers, leveraging a crypto-based backbone
  • Ivy Lender – A small business lending platform matching borrowers and lenders
  • MaxRewards – A mobile app that helps sort through the best rewards opportunities
  • QwikCheck – Cloud-based rapid-checkout point of sale solution
  • Stackfolio – An online marketplace for loan trading, eliminating the need for human brokers
  • Ternio – Offers Blockcard, which allows the use of cryptocurrency for everyday payments
  • WorldWatchPlus – A “Global Risk Information Exchange,” aggregating risk data with KYC/AML support
  • Yellow Card – Enables financial inclusion by converting a voucher purchased with cash into a funded online account using a cryptocurrency backbone

The Innovation Challenge weekly sessions are closed to the public; however, by attending FinTech South April 22-23 at Mercedes Benz Stadium you’ll have the chance to visit with all 12 participants in the Innovation Alley exhibit area, and to see the three finalists compete on stage for $50,000.
And hopefully a few of you with clever ideas germinating in your heads will find this proposition enticing enough to put some meat on the bones and prepare for the next batch of participants; we’ll start looking for candidates in the Fall. Georgia can never have enough innovative startups!