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Arkansas Leads the Way in Fintech

 October 05, 2021

Financial technology, or fintech, is booming in Arkansas.

In recent years, Arkansas has become increasingly prominent in the fintech space, attracting some of the top talent in the field to our state. This fintech boom can be largely attributed to a pair of accelerators, the FIS Fintech Accelerator and the ICBA ThinkTECH Accelerator, both hosted by the Venture Center. Over the past six years, these two accelerators have brought dozens of exciting companies to Arkansas, shining a light on the state and its strong banking industry.

I recently had the honor of attending Demo Day for the 2021 FIS Fintech Accelerator, the capstone for the 12-week fintech program. During Demo Day, executives from the 10 fintechs that participated in this year’s accelerator pitched their companies to a global audience of bankers, investors, and business leaders.

Joining virtually, these founders and executives laid out a vision for what banking and finance will look like in the future. It was exciting to get a glimpse of where the fintech industry is heading – and Arkansas is playing a big part in that future.

Since holding its inaugural accelerator in 2016, the Venture Center’s accelerators have gained increasing attention and prestige. In 2020, the Venture Center was named the winner in the Best Fintech Accelerator/Incubator category at the Finovate Awards, the top honor in the fintech industry, in recognition of the FIS and ICBA Accelerators.

These accelerators have helped put Arkansas on the map as a hot spot for financial technology.

Of course, Arkansas has a history of fintech innovation, dating back to 1968 with the founding of Systematics – which would ultimately become FIS – in Little Rock. This tradition continues today, with many fintech companies operating and thriving in Arkansas – addressing everything from artificial intelligence in banking to lending solutions to financial wellness.

Having two internationally renowned accelerators means that more companies have had the opportunity to learn what makes Arkansas special. It’s even persuaded several companies, including BOND.AI and HEXANIKA, to move to Arkansas, attracted by the low cost of business and high-quality of life.

The State of Arkansas and the Arkansas Economic Development Commission are proud to partner with the Venture Center on these vital accelerators. Each year, the Venture Center, FIS and ICBA raise the bar for what a fintech accelerator can be.

We want to continue accelerating these fintechs. At Demo Day, Gov. Asa Hutchinson and FIS Chairman and CEO Gary Norcross announced that the FIS Accelerator would be extended to 2022.

The Venture Center’s Executive Director, Wayne Miller, said, “Our six-year partnership with FIS in this Accelerator continues to bring some of the most promising financial technologies to the industry as well as to FIS clients around the world. The Venture Center is honored and privileged to serve FIS, the State of Arkansas and the banking industry by creating an environment where together financial industry leaders and innovative fintechs collaborate to solve the problems that matter, and we look forward to continuing this journey."

Working together, we will continue the journey of supporting fintechs and the innovative solutions they have to offer. This industry is growing rapidly, and Arkansas is right in the center of the fintech revolution.

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Blog post contributed by:

Mike Preston
Secretary of Commerce
Executive Director
Arkansas EconomicDevelopment Commission
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