An Atlanta-based company that is developing automated bill paying services for the city of Chelyabinsk, Russia, is planning to market the technology to small cities in Georgia, according to Joanne Walter, president of WalterPan LLC.
Ms. Walter told GlobalAtlanta recently the new technology is being developed through a program of the Georgia Department of Industry, Trade and Tourism and Georgia Southwestern State University in Americus and that similar programs have economic development potential for smaller cities throughout the state.
Ms. Walter hosted a delegation from Chelyabinsk in 2003 while she was employed at NCR Corp. in Duluth and decided to form her own company through the Advanced Technology Development Center at the Georgia Institute of Technology to provide the service to the Russian city.
While the project was too small for NCR, Ms. Walter said that GDITT officials were impressed with its potential for a start-up company and introduced her to the incubator program at Georgia Tech.
Graduate students at Georgia Southwestern, of the University System of Georgia are now customizing the bill payment software under a $100,000 contract with WalterPan and they are working as employees of Georgia Southwestern’s Research and Development Corp.
According to Ms. Walter, the software being developed for Chelyabinsk is only to be used for the payment of utility bills, but that other applications would be developed in the future.
Chelyabinsk residents will be able to pay their utility bills from a self-service kiosk rather than having to go to government offices where they have to wait in long lines.
“This is an exciting new business opportunity for WalterPan and other Georgia companies to sell technology in Russia,” Glenn Cornell, commissioner of the economic development department, said in a statement. “As Russia applies new technologies across its economy, Georgia’s companies will be prepared to offer innovative ideas and solutions.”
Ms. Walter said that other applications could be developed such as for the payment of cell phone and credit card bills that would be appropriate for individuals without bank accounts or credit histories.
“We are working on enhancing the rural software development model, building educational opportunities and creating jobs,” she said, adding that Georgia’s smaller cities could compete with outsourcing currently going to India and elsewhere.
“If you figure the cost of telecommunications and IT infrastructure, local and remote management, travel time on both sides and turnover of personnel in developing countries, rural Georgia is an alternative option that is economically good for the state.”
For more information, call Ms. Walter at (404) 920-1979.