Payment-processing firms clustering in Portland

Many of the highest-profile payment technologies come from Silicon Valley – PayPal, Square and Google Wallet come to mind – but Portland boasts a cluster of companies that plays a starring role in the evolution of how people and businesses interact with money.

Portland’s cluster is made up of nearly a dozen companies that fit under the umbrella term of payment innovation or financial technology – “fintech” in Silicon Valley jargon – but most operate in their own niche and don’t compete with one another. How and why this cluster came to be located in the Portland area is a mix of serendipity, happenstance with a dash of entrepreneurial spirit. But their growing ranks (combined they employ roughly 1,100 people in the Portland area) speaks to the city’s rising reputation as an innovation hub.

“To me it feels – the people I work with, the energy – very similar to my experience when I was in Silicon Valley, my experience when I was in San Francisco and the experience I had when I was in Boston,” said Ben Kaplan, new CEO of CashStar, a digital gift card company. “And that applies also to the talent of the people as well.”