Monitor Your Total Cost of Payment Acceptance With Canary


Katie McCarthy


July 20, 2023

July 20, 2023

July 20, 2023

One of our main goals here at Pagos is to provide our users with clean, harmonized, and comparable data across different data sources. In other words, no matter where your payments data originates from, you can view every authorization, transaction, decline, and chargeback aggregated together in a single place. Doing so takes a ton of work off your plate; instead of exporting payments data from each of your payment processors into a spreadsheet and spending hours cleaning the data and hacking it together in pivot tables, you can simply log into your Pagos account and connect your data sources. Through our no-code or low-code connections, we’ll import and automatically aggregate all your transaction data for you.

The same is true for fee data! We’ll import every fee you face—regardless of who charged them—and present them back to you in aggregate. To make this possible, we built out a fee mapping that brings together all fee data in an easy-to-digest manner. With this harmonized fee data, we can generate data visualizations in the Peacock Fees Dashboard and—with our latest product release—monitor your individual costs for anomalies in Canary. Let’s check out these new Canary cost features!

How and Why Pagos Manages Fees

We use three primary fields to talk about fee data: 

  • Fee Code - The raw fee code data provided by the payments processor.

  • Fee Category - The top level classification of a given fee that indicates how your fees move at the highest level. There are three main fee categories—Interchange, Processor, and Network—but depending on your data sources and payment methods, there may be more.

  • Fee Subcategory - The next level of classification under fee categories that delineates fee groups for tracking cost trends over time. Examples include Authorization, Card_processing, Reversal, and more.

We ingest your raw fee code data through your data connections and map them into the corresponding fee categories and subcategories. For example, any fee code corresponding to payment card processing fees would have the category of Processor and the fee subcategory of card_processing. For a complete list of our fee type, fee type category, and fee type subcategory codes, see our Pagos Product Documentation.

Monitoring fees in Canary—and Peacock, for that matter—not only helps you understand what the normal cost of payments is for your business, but also helps you detect any errors or configuration issues in your stack. For example, with Pagos, you can quickly detect a billing error that might have led to you overpaying one of your payment processors. Similarly, our fee monitoring services allow you to confirm and track any cost savings initiatives your business takes. The opportunities are limitless!

Where Does Fee Data Come From?

Fee data comes directly attached to your transaction record through your payments service provider (PSP). When you connect a data source to your Pagos account, we’ll ingest your fee data along with all other payments data from that source. Depending on the Pagos services you’ve subscribed to, you can then monitor that fee data in Canary and visualize it in Peacock.

Configuring Cost Triggers in Canary

Canary is a “set-it-and-forget-it” type of tool, meaning you can make a trigger and it will let you know when things start to look out of bounds. When you configure a trigger in Canary, you’ll customize the exact segments of your data you want to monitor, the metric measured, and even the value that metric would need to cross to require your attention.

Let’s explore the logistics behind the fields you’ll configure for a Canary cost trigger:

  • Metric: The cost metric trackable in Canary is Fee Value. A trigger configured around this metric will alert you whenever the total combined value of all your fees crosses the indicated threshold.

  • Filters: By applying filters to a Canary trigger, you effectively tell Canary the exact segments of your data (i.e. data streams) you want to monitor. What filters are available for configuration depend on the metric you chose. For Fee Value, you can use the Card Brand, Currency, Merchant Account ID, and Processor filters, along with three others that correspond to the three primary fee fields we discussed in the section above: Fee Category, Fee Subcategory, and Fee Code.

    • Fee Category - Select the exact fee category (or categories) you want to monitor fee volume for. If you want to filter down to just one category your business is particularly interested in (e.g. Processor fees), you can do so. Alternatively, you can also select “all” and monitor all the categories simultaneously and separately

    • Subcategory: This will monitor the intermediate level of Pagos mappings. Depending on your processors, there may be more than a dozen subcategories to choose from. Canary allows you to monitor up to 12 data streams with each trigger, so you can select the top 12 subcategories that matter the most to you.

    • Fee Code: This is the most granular level of data that you can monitor. This is for when you’re really trying to evaluate fee trends for a particular processor, card brand, or process. Like the Subcategory filter, you can select up to 12 fee codes to monitor simultaneously

  • Aggregation Period: This is the time period for which you want Canary to review your chosen metrics (e.g. daily or weekly). We understand that fees are not something that need to be monitored, or can be managed, on a day-to-day basis. That’s why we introduced monthly and weekly fee aggregation to Canary. That way you can have Canary evaluate triggers on a longer time horizon that is more appropriate for the metric in question and you can receive notification from Pagos only when it matters most to you.

All other trigger configuration options operate the same for Fee Value triggers as they do for any other trigger. To learn more about trigger configuration in Canary and the other metrics you can track using this powerful tool, see our Pagos Product Documentation.

Resources to Better Understand Fee Events

So you’ve set up the triggers in Canary, and you’re receiving notifications of events that those triggers have detected. Now what? Head on over to Peacock and take a look at the fee visualizations over time in your Costs dashboard. This standard dashboard can help you visualize the trends in the fee categories and subcategories you’re evaluating. Learn more about Peacock fee visualizations in our documentation, and check out this use case example for a breakdown of how you can use fee categories to figure out exactly how much your retry logic is costing you.

Here is an example of what a Subcategory Costs chart might look like in Peacock. As a supplement to a Canary trigger, you can see how the volume fluctuates over time. You'd receive alerts from Canary on those high volume days, and then could come to Peacock to confirm the trend analysis and conduct more research:

Furthermore, once your new Canary trigger has been performing for some time, you can make use of the new Canary Summaries feature. In the Summaries section of your Canary Service Panel, you can configure a Summary around the cost trigger, and then review the aggregated results of each time your fee data changed enough to set off the trigger and log an event. Learn more about Summaries in our documentation.

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