3 Questions with Governor Asa Huntchinson on Fintech in Arkansas

Asa Hutchinson

FinTekNews is pleased to offer our weekly feature column 3 Questions. Each week, we feature a thought leader within a unique sector of fintech and ask them to answer just 3 questions for our audience in their vernacular. This week, we’d like to introduce you to Governor Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas, our first elected official to appear in this series.  Arkansas has been at the forefront of states in the US in developing a strong ecosystem for growth of the fintech sector, and we have long admired them for being more forward thinking than most on developing this important category.  In the interview below, Gov. Hutchinson shares some of the state’s successes and directives within their partnership with FIS and the Venture Center FinTech Accelerator, based in the capital city Little Rock.

NAME:  Asa Hutchinson
TITLE: Arkansas Governor
JURISDICTION: State of Arkansas
WEB ADDRESS: www.governor.arkansas.gov

What area/s of fintech do you believe will grow the most in the coming 5 years?

We will continue to see more technology geared to improving customer experiences, especially through the use of mobile apps. Everything from mobile payments to financial planning will be done on apps. More and more transactions happen through digital platforms. One of this year’s 10 startup companies in the Venture Center FinTech Accelerator is paving the way for coinless cash transaction. https://www.venturecenter.co/2018-cohort/2018/5/3/bucket

As personal and financial information is more readily transmitted via digital means, there will be an increased need to ensure consumer data remains secure, so we will see growth in cybersecurity. On a side note, the State of Arkansas has partnered with the Little Rock Air Force Base and the local high school for a cyber-training curriculum on campus, to prepare students for workforce, military service or college.

On the banking side, our banks want to operate efficiently, improve profits, and address regulatory burdens. This is where we’ll see improvements in AI, management technology, and blockchain technology to make experiences better, faster, and more secure.

What are the biggest problems facing the fintech industry in the future?

Small businesses, especially startups, need money. New advances in FinTech are helping these customers gain access to funding sources as well as inventory and supply chain management.

Also, the industry is facing challenges in state regulations. Different states have different regulations. By working with regulators in all 50 states, companies could make identical submissions to each state in which they do business, reducing costs and efficiencies.

What has been the biggest success in your state to date?

Arkansas has been blessed with such successful financial technology firms as Acxiom, ABC Financial and FIS. As governor, I would have to say that our biggest success from a state perspective has been our partnership with FIS and the Venture Center FinTech Accelerator. Our partnership is now in its third year. The accelerator works with 10 startups – this year chosen from more than 280 applicants from 45 countries – to present their work and pitch their ideas to 450 potential investors, community leaders, and representatives from financial institutions. Participants of past programs have raised about $40 million in combined capital, several have entered into formal agreements with FIS, and four decided to make Arkansas home to their headquarters.

Arkansas has the tools in place to be a leader in entrepreneurism. Our goal is to have a micro-hub of technology companies in the state. Whether we talk about coding, fintech or cybersecurity, Arkansans want to be innovators. As a state, want to be on the cutting edge and continue investing in it.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson was sworn into office January 2015. As part of his strategy to market and attract more jobs and businesses to The Natural State, he has met with CEOs of major industries across the globe from Silicon Valley to France, Japan, Israel, Germany and China. On the national stage, Gov. Hutchinson has been a key leader on energy, security, and education. Before being elected governor, Hutchinson served as Director of the Drug Enforcement Administration and as the first Undersecretary of the Department of Homeland Security. Voters in Arkansas’s Third District also elected him to Congress three times.