Paying bills is not a fun thing. So, I think it’s safe to say that any technology that can make the process easier is welcome by everyone.
Papaya is a Los Angeles-based startup with a mission to do just that. He developed technology to give people a way to pay their bills outside of traditional methods, such as by mail, over the phone, or through a web portal. The company’s mobile app allows users to take a photo of any invoice, then its artificial intelligence-based ‘invoice understanding technology’ ensures that it gets paid (after a user has provided payment details, of course).
To prove this point, CEO and co-founder Patrick Kann demonstrated to me via Zoom how even after tearing an invoice into a few pieces, Papaya’s app was able to scan the relevant parts of the invoice to ensure that ‘she was paid.
âAs long as a biller has an electronic payment method, anyone can submit payments through our app,â Kann said. âIt is a true universal means of payment.
Kann was inspired to launch Papaya after growing up in Brazil, where similar payment technology already exists.
âPeople back home were surprised to find that we didn’t have the same capabilities here,â Kann said. âIn this regard, the United States has been an anomaly, with just 3% of bills paid by a mobile device. We saw a huge business opportunity with mobile bill payments.
Kann partnered with computer vision scientist Jason Meltzer, who led the development of the computer vision technology behind Roomba at iRobot, to build Papaya.
The company’s goal is simple: to minimize the stress of paying Americans bills by making it easy to pay any bill with their mobile device. It also claims to help businesses of all sizes in all industries as well as governments and municipalities get paid faster and more often.
Today, Papaya announces that it has raised $ 50 million in a Series B funding round led by Bessemer Venture Partners, with participation from Sequoia Capital, Acrew Capital, 01 Advisors, Mucker Capital, Fika Ventures, F -Prime and Sound Ventures. The funding brings the company’s total previously under the radar raised to $ 65 million since its inception in 2016.
Papaya currently facilitates payments for âhundreds of thousandsâ of businesses and organizations and millions of users in the United States.
It hopes to build on its existing technology with a comprehensive product roadmap.
Papaya has already come a long way. In his early days, Kann promoted the app by putting stickers with Papaya’s QR code on people’s windshields after getting a parking ticket in Las Vegas. Over time, the city has added it to its paper notices. Then the company began to work with physician offices to provide this option to their patients.
Kann boasts a team of 80 people made up of 60% under-represented minorities and a product engineering team made up of 45% women.
So far, its growth has been “completely organic,” without a marketing team, according to the CEO.
âOur customer acquisition cost is very low compared to a lot of fintechs,â he said.
But of course, part of its capital will go to the notoriety and to the increase of its workforce.
While Kann declined to reveal details of his earnings, he said Papaya “is on track to acquire 1 million new active users per year.”
Speaking of turnover, the business model is interesting. The application is free for users and Papaya does not ask for anything âextraâ from merchants. Rather, it derives a percentage of the revenue from the interchange fees that merchants have to pay when processing credit cards.
Charles Birnbaum of Bessemer Venture Partners says her company has been following the Papaya team since they first used their âmagicâ bill payment app for themselves.
âIt’s incredibly rare to come across a business that is not only positively impacting millions of consumers by making something painful more transparent, but also solving a critical issue for businesses in several different industry verticals ranging from healthcare to public services, âhe said. âWe have no doubt that Papaya’s bill paying experience will become a tabletop issue across the consumer financial services landscape in the years to come. “