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I think your current options are fine and probably would scale fine.
Another option would be to use the engagement program and transition them out of the stream, use the "data value changes" trigger and whatever field you have that marks them as paid.
I agree with Darrel. Why is option 3 not scalable? Create master smart campaign (Existing Customer: Exclude) that listens for payment and then removes the customer from the flow. There should only be one trigger, such as Data Value Changes --> New value "Customer" Is True, with one flow step, Remove from Flow.
Another option I've had success with is creating a Master Exclusion smart list. This list contains any triggers or filters that you would want to include in your marketing campaigns. As you build out your Target list, include the filter "Is not in Smart list: Master Exclusion list". You can also clone the master exclusion list into the program itself, so you can remove certain filters and triggers if you only want certain criteria to apply.
I would go for option 2. Is is very easy. You just set up a smart list and on each send email flow step, you add a choice that says :
"if member of smart list then do nothing else send email". If you need to evolve the criteria, just change the smart list filters.