Bill Payment App Papaya Raises $50 Million To Pay Your Parking Ticket
If you’ve ever gotten a parking ticket in Las Vegas, you’ve probably heard of Papaya.
The fintech company based in Los Angeles can be found on every parking ticket in Las Vegas to make it easier for people to pay their fine.
The company has long been in the business of advertising itself with some of the worst financial news a person can get: a parking ticket, an unexpected hospital bill, or a forgotten utilities fee. The goal is to make hard-to-track paper bills easier to pay. On Wednesday, it announced it raised a $50 million Series B round from Bessemer Ventures with additional funds from the likes of Sequoia Capital and Sound Ventures.
“Finances is the number one cause of stress for most families more than anything else. And the second keep being bills, especially paper bills, is a significant component of that stress,” said Josh Mittler Papaya’s head of business operations. “We've seen that massive opportunity to ease financial burdens and create a way for Americans to easily pay bills. It is really what led to the founding.”
The company was founded by Patrick Kann and Jason Metzler in 2016 after Kann moved to the U.S. from Brazil. Brazil’s bill pay system is one online centralized portal, and paper bills came with a scannable barcode that make the process of paying paper and online bills relatively seamless. By comparison, the U.S. has multiple fragmented systems for paying rent, utilities and for health care services that are scattered across online portals and mailing checks.
Through the Papaya app, users can take a picture of their bill and type in the amount they want to pay and fulfill that bill payment as long as the end user has a mailing address or an online payment portal. Papaya doesn’t need to have a partnership or integration with any specific bill, and users don’t need to log in or connect to those bill payment systems.
Using optical character recognition, the software enables the app to look at every bill — no matter what the format is — and recognize each piece of information. You could, theoretically, rip up your bill and rearrange the pieces, and the software would still recognize your name, address and the bill amount.
This gives Papaya the flexibility to pay all kinds of bills for all kinds of companies, no matter what they look like.
“We increase their volume of payments that go through Papaya versus their traditional means of web portals, paper checks or phone calls,” Mittler said. “We help businesses get paid faster and more often.”
Papaya uses user data to create new products. It also reserves the right to share personal information with third party service providers, per its privacy statement.
The raise will go towards expanding Papaya’s 80-person team (particularly in the product and engineering departments) and expanding its partnerships. The company has partnered with large municipalities and health care organizations that will direct people to pay via Papaya on their paper bill statements.
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