Joel Darby knew there had to be a better way.
He was trying to pay a ticket online through a local municipality’s website, and it was not going well. The process was challenging at best, thanks to the antiquated technology the county had in place. Darby realized that many local governments probably have the same issues, and he wanted to figure out how to help them improve their systems. “My goal has always been to create efficiency where there was none,” says the longtime Peachtree Hills resident, who found the perfect opportunity as president of FivePoint Payments, an organization that streamlines and modernizes payment processing for government agencies. Founded in Buckhead as the sister company to South Carolina-based FivePoint Solutions, the firm now serves more than 250 counties and municipalities in 21 states and U.S. territories, and has become a bona fide leader in government technology solutions.
How has FivePoint Payments fared during the public health crisis and economic downturn?
We have actually seen a significant increase in business. County governments and courts are looking to leverage the technologies they have been reluctant to adopt over the years. Judges and clerks are wondering how they can move their businesses onto web-based applications so it’s easier for them to provide services. So we are in growth mode. We’re scaling quickly and building new products.
What is one of your newest products or services?
FivePoint Check-In is brand new. It allows you to communicate with government personnel from your mobile phone. For instance, if you arrive for jury duty or traffic court, you can sit in the parking deck and check in from your phone. The court staff sees that you are in the queue, and you don’t have to enter the building.
What do you see for the future of government technology solutions?
COVID-19 has shifted how people are working and interacting, and we are identifying the ways in which governments will react when they reopen. People now want to interact autonomously. They want automation and efficiency, and that’s what we can provide. Our solutions include everything from contactless credit card machines to kiosks that allow you to you drop off documents, accept payments and more. These are advanced solutions that are on the cutting edge.
In addition to serving as president of FivePoint Payments, you’re the founder of the Atlanta Moon Ride, which raised funds for nonprofit Bert’s Big Adventure and completed its seven year run in 2019. Tell us about that experience.
My wife, Molly, is the executive director of Bert’s Big Adventure. And Bert [Weiss] is a good friend. I had participated in a similar bike ride 25 years ago and knew that if I ever had an opportunity to start one myself, I would want to make it a fundraiser. In our first year, we had 700 riders. We grew to about 7,000 riders, and, over the past seven years, we raised well over $350,000. It was so fulfilling to give back to such deserving children [with chronic and terminal illnesses]. We are looking forward to coming back at some point with another event. You’ve been an active member of the Buckhead community for more than a decade.
What do you enjoy most about the area?
Molly and I love our neighborhood. Peachtree Hills is a safe, walkable community, and we love having access to all different parts of town because it’s so centralized. We enjoy going to Peachtree Hills Park and throwing the ball with our two dogs, Peter Frampton and Tina Turner. And we love the food and the people. There’s such a diverse crowd of folks that we have access to on a day to day basis. It’s a very good mix of people.
15 Minutes With columnist at Simply Buckhead. Freelance feature writer, children’s book author and President of Green Meadows Communications, LLC.