Gov. Ron DeSantis seeks to boost financial-technology jobs in Florida

Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during news conference in Fort Lauderdale, Feb. 13, 2019
Posted at 8:03 AM, Sep 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-17 11:54:32-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Gov. Ron DeSantis wants to create more financial-technology jobs in Florida by, in part, providing more “flexible” regulations.

With some changes to state law, DeSantis said the banking sector in Jacksonville can lead the way in improving financial services through online technology, better known as “fintech,” as he released a proposal Monday.

“If you look at the Space Coast, all that is happening with aerospace and commercial space. You look down in South Florida you have some great things happening in technology. I think a place like Jacksonville was tailor-made to take the financial technology sector to the next level,” DeSantis said during a news conference at the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce.

DeSantis’ proposal has several parts. DeSantis directed Enterprise Florida and the Department of Economic Opportunity to speed the review of Job Growth Grant Fund applications that propose workforce training at state colleges tied to the financial technology industry.

“We really conceive of these to be potentially like fintech academies,” DeSantis said. “Jacksonville is obviously a natural place for that. But you look at Tampa, Miami there are other places around the state you can do as well. I think that not only will be beneficial, I think it sends a signal to people that may want to invest in Florida that we’re taking workforce very seriously.”

The fund, created in 2017 after a legislative battle about incentives, has $40 million for job training and public infrastructure projects in the current fiscal year.

DeSantis also said he intends to propose legislation for the 2020 session that would ease regulations so financial technology companies that “disrupt the status quo are allowed to exist with more flexible regulatory requirements.”

DeSantis said his legislative proposal seeks to ease the field for financial technology, such as the crypto company Blockchain and digital money such as Bitcoin, that can be “suffocated” by the state’s current financial regulation rules.