Throughout 2020, the founders at Pay Theory asked time and time again:“How can advancements in Finance Technology (fintech) help to advance the mission of our K-12 education system?” Of course, one good question leads into another. Our second philosophical question that we noodled on was a broader one about the state of schooling in the 2020s: what is the mission of the K-12 education system?
As evidenced particularly during the time of COVID and virtual learning, it’s no secret that our education system here in the US had faced its share of challenges. Teachers are often overwhelmed and underpaid. Administrators are left straining to manage ever more challenging student and parent situations. In recent decades, the education system has found itself saddled with and new responsibilities such as being passed into it like mental and physical healthcare, site security and numerous new enrichment activities. And all the while, social media has given a chamber to unseen levels of angst.
How can we help?
In thinking about helping schools, we found it helpful to recognize three foundational concepts:
- A good education is vital to a person becoming a contributing member of a civilized society, so we must continue to educate our children.
- Schools, private or public, are where that education tends to happen, so we must continue to support our schools, teachers and administrators.
- The definition of a good education is evolving. Along those lines, schools are working together with parents, communities and technology to address that evolution.
Education technology has begun to evolve with these new needs, creating a layer of technology between the school and the families served by schools. SaaS applications such Clever, SeeSaw, Google Classroom and Parent Square have revolutionized families’ level of engagement in a child’s education and education environment. Data repositories such as Global Grid for Learning have made it possible for these applications to easily integrate with student data.
We realized that fintech also had something to offer to help schools meet their evolving missions). Schools need help from EdTech and FinTech to reduce payment frictions. To do that, we recognized that payments are governed by three unique customers with different need sets: schools, EdTech SaaS platform vendors and families.
A better solution
A better payment solution has to deliver a better experience for all these customers. That came down to three crucial design directives:
- A solution that serves ALL families, no matter their socioeconomic position, banking status or credit score.
- A solution that respects and, ideally, saves school resources in terms of both budget and labor concerns.
- A solution that improves SaaS platforms by making them more valuable for their customers while opening up new sources of revenue.
That’s a payments tool that some might deem, dare we say, too cool for school. We, of course, disagree. The development challenge is to allow for the seamless transfer and visualization of data among an EdTech platform, payment transactions, schools, and families.
Helping education achieve its mission isn’t just our mission: It’s the mission of our payments solution. Stay tuned on this blog to learn more about our vision for Family Tech and payments.