@ I Birkholz
1. Exploring payment gateway options for featured entries and such is on my to do list. At this time, I do not have any ETA on when and what features will be available for this.
2. Actually Connections is shortcode based and can be used with just about any theme. The templates for Connections are not themes. Well, you could consider them “mini theme” of sorts, but they only affect the out of Connections.
I hope that helps!