Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Group wants to make Charlotte a payment hub

A new group of bankers, businessmen and entrepreneurs hopes to turn Charlotte into a nationally recognized hub for the payment industry.

The Charlotte Payments Initiative, also known as PayCLT, held an introductory meeting Monday evening at entrepreneurship incubator Packard Place. About 50 people turned out, representing banks, payment processors, start-ups and city economic development officials.

While its mission is still being developed, the initiative's broad goal is to mobilize the payment community, attract industry leaders to relocate or expand in the Queen City, foster new companies and become an educational resource.

Especially as the city's big banks trim back, the group hopes to provide more opportunities for payment workers who would much rather stay in Charlotte than move to New York.

PayCLT is headed by Raja Bose, a former Bank of America executive who led an emerging payments and mobile product group. He now does consulting work.

He defined the payments industry as larger than just transactions, but also demand generation, consumer behavior and other commerce activities.

The industry is particularly in flux as developments in technology provide new opportunities. PayPal has already left an indelible mark, and new companies like Square seek to capitalize on the flattening influence of technology.

The group hopes to follow the lead of a similar initiative started last year in the energy industry. Known as CLT Joules, the fledgling organization has already started a build-out of 6,000-square-feet of office space in Packard Place. Three companies have already agreed to locate there in the first quarter.