Why Rhode Island Is a Growing FinTech Hub
In the past few years, Rhode Island has been hard at work rebuilding its economy. The results have been striking—the state has seen growth in multiple sectors, from biotech to manufacturing to tourism, to, last but not least, FinTech. The work-life balance that the state offers sets it apart from other locations in the region. And with its close proximity to the key hubs of Boston (just 45 minutes away) and New York City (three hours by train), Rhode Island is being recognized for the important role it plays in the Atlantic FinTech corridor.
First and foremost among Rhode Island’s many compelling qualities is this: Talent. There are more than 180,000 computer and engineering professionals within an hour’s proximity to Rhode Island. It’s a talent pool that’s ensured to run deep, too, by the intellectual centers represented by the state’s colleges. Rhode Island is home to 11 universities, including world-renowned Brown University, as well as Rhode Island School of Design, one of the country’s best design schools. Together, all the state’s colleges offer robust programs in computer science, data analytics, engineering, design, cybersecurity, statistics, business, entrepreneurship, finance, law and liberal arts, just to name a few.
That thriving university ecosystem lends itself to dynamic lifestyle attractions. Factors that make Rhode Island’s quality of life among the highest in the nation include its foodie culture, which is known throughout the Northeast for offering some of the hottest culinary spots at affordable prices. The arts and theater scene is strong, too—cultural and historical attractions abound. The state also offers some of the best beaches in the Northeast. And everything is accessible within a short drive.
“In Rhode Island, we develop young talent in STEM and cultivate a great quality of life that allows for a healthy work-life balance,” said Laurie White, president, Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce. “Having a growing number of FinTech companies thriving here then creates a perfect synergy for that talent to stay to work and live in Rhode Island.”
The quality-of-life factor in Rhode Island is a strong selling point anyway you look at it—for workers, it means homes are affordable and schools are great. For business owners, it means office space is reasonably priced and the cost of doing business is a bargain.
Rhode Island offers countless reasons to relocate or remain in the state. For students who see the value of working and living here, the state offers its innovative Wavemaker Fellowship, which provides a financial incentive for graduates pursuing a career or starting a business in STEM and design fields.
Margaret Hartigan, Co-founder and CEO of digital wealth management platform Marstone, had this to say about operating in Rhode Island: “There’s such a strong creative and artistic presence here, which means we can capture unexpected ideas and out-of-the-ordinary concepts that ensure we’re always on the cutting edge of our industry. But we also can get to Boston in under an hour if we need to, so we benefit from easy access to the financial center of the Northeast.”
Some notable FinTech firms operating from Rhode Island include eMoney Financial Advisors (acquired by Fidelity Investments in 2015), headquartered here, and Upserve, identified by CB Insights in July 2018 as the most “well-funded VC-backed technology startup” in the state. Infosys was attracted here by the plethora of design talent available. Marstone and Starburst Labs, meanwhile, both have dual headquarters—in New York City and Providence.
These are just some of the FinTech companies discovering in Rhode Island the creative and smart public-private partnerships and programs that make it one of the most business-friendly states in the Northeast and an up-and-comer in the FinTech sector.