Taking raw data and turning it into powerful information is a passion of mine. I first became interested in this when the space shuttle Challenger exploded. The root cause was an O-ring exposed to very low temperatures; a fact that was hotly debated by NASA before the launch. After the disaster, noted statistician Edward Tufte showed how, if the data had been illustrated differently, the weakness would have stood out like a sore thumb, perhaps eliminating the NASA debate and avoiding the explosion. I was hooked. Pages of raw statistics mean little; turn them into meaningful analytics with charts or graphs and they have very important stories to tell.
Several years ago when Matt Ozvat became the head of Developer Integrations I had already implemented some basic tracking metrics about our ISV partners – how many our team certified, how many went into production, that sort of thing. Matt pushed me to go beyond simple metrics and investigate what the numbers meant, identifying trends to help with management decisions.
Since then I have evolved my work into hypothesis-based analytics. For example, after EMV hit the U.S. market last year, we experienced a huge rush of ISV’s converting their POS to accept EMV. In January 2016 we started tracking merchant adoption of these new EMV solutions and discovered that it has been slower than expected. Through data sleuthing we discovered several root causes. One of these is that EMV solutions, with complicated EMV-enabled devices, are harder to install at a merchant location than traditional magstripe devices. As a result, we now have an “EMV commercialization” program designed specifically to help our ISV’s and resellers sell and install these solutions with greater ease. The program consists of both marketing materials and a technical installation template that takes a lot of guesswork out of merchant setup. It’s too soon to tell if this program is helping – we only launched a few weeks ago – but you can bet I will be tracking the trends to see if adoption increases more quickly.
Right now I’m looking at the rate of chargebacks for merchants who do not have EMV solutions. Anecdotally, we hear that merchants are experiencing more chargebacks and aren’t happy about it; my research will identify which merchants are experiencing the most pain. Once that is done we will take steps to help them reduce their chargebacks.
The world of payments processing is changing at an unprecedented pace – we’re pioneers in an unknown land – and data analytics are like a compass helping to chart the path ahead.