Payment technology platform, Promise, has announced over $20 Million in new Series A funding to bring antiquated government payment systems into the 21st century.
The modern payment solution helps residents navigate government payments like utilities, child support, parking tickets, and more with dignity and ease by making customizable plans and digital payment options available. This round is led by Kapor Capital and XYZ, with additional funding coming from Bronze, First Round, Y Combinator, and more.
“Right now, in America, it is easier to buy a state-of-the-art exercise bike than to keep your water on,” said Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins, Founder, and CEO of Promise. “The last year really showcased the depth of inequality Americans in underserved communities face. While we’re seeing private companies create interest-free, no-money-down solutions for customers, people struggling with government payments are not offered the same flexibility. Millions of people can’t pay their bills and Promise is partnering with the public sector to improve the system.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has increased payment-related hardships for both agencies and customers. Promise partnered with the Louisville Water Company to help create solutions for over 5,000 past due accounts and distribute over $4 million in COVID-related assistance. In the first week of relief distribution, over 4,000 residents received more than $1.5 million in assistance, 15 times more relief than another local utility was able to manually distribute in the same timeframe. Customers appreciated the ease and simplicity of the process, one shared, “This was the easiest thing I ever applied for. I am so grateful for this relief amount. I can sleep a little better at night with [one] less thing on my mind.”
“During the pandemic, we have seen more and more of our customers struggling to pay their water bills. Now more than ever we need an easy way to get our customers into payment plans. Promise provides a seamless solution that gets more of our customers enrolled and brings revenue into our utility,” said Tony Parrott, Executive Director of Louisville and Jefferson County Metropolitan Sewer District.
Promise’s research and experience show that customers want to pay their government bills - but they often face archaic, inflexible and difficult to navigate systems. Promise offers increased payment velocity and volume through a robust, easy solution for both government agencies and their customers, including:
Adjustable payment dates
Manageable and interest-free payment plans
Convenient and non-traditional payment options
Promise was founded in 2017 by Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins and Diana Frappier. After participating in Y Combinator’s spring 2018 class, Promise launched with approximately $3.9 Million of funding. Over the last several years, Promise has expanded its offering to become a full payment solution for government. Promise’s investors include Kapor Capital, XYZ, Bronze, First Round, Y Combinator, 8VC, Village, Backstage, Gaingels, Bumble, and more. This round of funding consisted primarily of current investors who wanted to deepen their commitment to Promise.
“Phaedra and the Promise team have an incredible vision and are fixing real-world problems - everyone in this country has experienced the pains of paying tickets, fines, utility bills, and more,” said Mitch Kapor, Kapor Capital, and Promise Board Member. “I’ve seen firsthand the work that this team has done in the last few years and the impact they’ve had on the people who need it the most is nothing short of amazing. They’re out to change the way the government interacts with constituents at a time where it matters more than ever.”
Ross Fubini, Managing Partner at XYZ Venture Capital added “Now more than ever, when much of the population is experiencing deep economic anxiety, purposeful and focused tech-enabled payment offerings are needed for the citizen who lost their job in COVID-19, the young professional who can’t catch a break, or new parents in this unprecedented time just trying to make ends meet. Promise delivers these directly to governments and their constituents.”