February 4 2022

Cincinnati Fintech Pay Theory Receives $2M in Seed Round Investment Led by Zeal Capital Partners

Inclusive Payment Solution for SaaS Platforms Means Better Access To Vital Services for Everyone

CINCINNATI, Feb. 4, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Pay Theory, a Cincinnati-based startup, and the first payment platform with the mission to break down barriers between families and their most vital service providers through simple, beautiful, and inclusive financial solutions, has closed a $2M Seed Funding round led by Zeal Capital Partners, a Washington, D.C.-based venture capital firm known for its commitment to inclusive investing. The investment — which brings Pay Theory's total funding to $2.5M — will go toward product development and talent acquisition for roles in sales, finance, and software development and allow it to focus on growing its Family Tech SaaS vendor and service provider relationships.

Additional new investors in the seed round include SixThirty, Ohio Impact Fund, Gaingels, and Sica Ventures. Pay Theory also received follow-on investments from Double Eagle Venture Partners, LOUD Capital, and a number of their existing angel investors.

"This is a major step forward for Pay Theory. It represents validation for our approach to inclusive finance in the business verticals where it counts most for families," says Brad Hoeweler, CEO, of Pay Theory. "Zeal, SixThirty and the rest of our investor group bring us deep experience in payments and fintech. Their leading this seed round investment exemplifies their commitment to our innovation in this fast-growing, ever-evolving space."

"Pay Theory offers a new opportunity for fintech to leverage its power to narrow the financial divide for families and communities that have been historically ignored and underserved in the financial services industry," says Nasir Qadree, Founder and Managing Partner of Zeal Capital. "The potential of becoming a market leader - the impact and scale of that impact - is in lockstep with Zeal's mission to spur greater economic mobility across the US by closing the financial gap for the un- and underbanked. We are excited to help propel their journey."

Pay Theory was founded on the idea of building a better payments solution for K12 schools, which is still a focus area for the Company, but in learning how to help schools they ran into this important question: What are you doing to create equitable, inclusive access for all students and their families?

Roughly 30 percent of K12 public school families in the US are un- or under-banked, locked out from traditional financing systems, and left to rely on physical cash and alternative financing to make household finances work.

More than half of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, with nearly a quarter of them un- or underbanked, creating challenges in making payments on time, particularly when bills can be lumpy, like the beginning of a school year or a surprise health situation. These challenges have only been exacerbated by COVID19, as transactions have moved online and families have lost jobs and been prevented from making payments in person.

With its cutting-edge platform, Pay Theory empowers SaaS vendors to must-pay service providers, like K12 schools, childcare providers, healthcare services, and kids sports and activity organizations to embrace and implement technology that delivers better customer experiences, while at the same time ensuring inclusivity for all families regardless of their access to a checking account or credit card.

Pay Theory does this by giving families the option to pay for an online purchase transaction in physical cash using a network of nearly 60,000 retailers nationwide - and growing -  including Dollar General, CVS, 7-Eleven, Walgreens, and Walmart. A bill or fee of any sort can be issued to a family who chooses to pay in cash through one Pay Theory's partners. Once the family chooses cash, they are issued a barcode, either virtually on a smartphone or through email, that can then be scanned by a cashier at a retailer and paid for in cash.  This allows service providers to be virtually cash-free while offering a financially inclusive payment option to parents.

"Fintech can be the biggest enabler of inclusive finance in the world because it is not constrained by legacy systems or relationships," says Hoeweler.  "The challenge, especially for a portion of the economy, is to build financial systems that serve every single person equitably. In doing so, tech really can make the world a better place."

Pay Theory's simplified payment architecture integrates into SaaS platforms that "must-pay" service providers, like schools or doctors' offices, are already using.  These platforms process payments from a parent into a service provider's account by way of a credit or debit card transaction, an electronic check, or by a barcode for cash payments. "We see broader financial services applications for this unique architecture at banks and credit unions as well" said Eric Fulkert, Pay Theory's President and CTO.

Future plans for Pay Theory include an 'Access Now, Pay Later' solution for its verticals, tailored credit issuing, and credit score building. These solutions, as well as family-specific rewards, will help SaaS platforms empower families to make the payments to the service providers that will ultimately shape their childrens' futures.

To learn more about Pay Theory, please visit paytheory.com.

About Zeal Capital Partners
Zeal Capital Partners serves as a Washington, DC-based inclusive investment firm partnering with exceptional, diverse management teams building high growth early-stage businesses that are reimagining the building blocks of wealth – from education to employment and financial health. Zeal invests in pre-seed to series A stage businesses with a target check size of $250,000 to $2 Million. Zeal seeks to invest in Financial Technology and Future of Work companies in the U.S. with innovative, tech-enabled solutions that turbo charges economic mobility.

About Pay Theory

Pay Theory is inclusive payments. We create financial services infrastructure for SaaS platforms that breaks down barriers between families and their most vital service providers. We believe that simple, beautiful financial solutions can impact access improvement for all families. Vital service providers like schools and healthcare systems save time and improve collections by allowing families to pay how they want, where they want regardless of financial standing. Families get and maintain access to these services by paying for them in the way that is most convenient, including making cash payments electronically. Imagine...cashless environments without discrimination. Our team is a mix of Fintech/Payments, FamilyTech and consumer experts who are working together to bring this vision to life. Our goal is to eliminate the difficult conversations and tradeoffs that make it hard to pay for the services that help to make families futures. Learn more at PayTheory.com.