Optimizing Payments: Five Key Objectives to Guide Your Payments Optimization Strategy

Achieve your full payments potential with this guide to optimization and success.

In theory, succeeding as a company that sells goods or services seems pretty straight forward: make something people want to buy and sell it to them. But as any modern commerce business can tell you, there are far more roadblocks to success than simply selling something worth buying. Regardless of how good your product or service is—or even how in-demand your business is—success often hinges on your ability to optimize your payment processing

When we say payment processing, we refer to the full operation of accepting transactions from top to bottom. That includes, but isn’t limited to:

  • Accepting different payment methods and card types

  • Offering an intuitive checkout experience

  • Using one or more payment service providers (PSPs) to actually process your sales

  • Developing procedures for handling one time, recurring, and subscription payments

  • Processing returns, refunds, and chargebacks

  • Monitoring and developing systems for fighting fraud

  • Choosing which countries you support sales within and which currencies you accept

How you manage all of these complexities is a determining factor in how your business performs. Optimizing them means you go a step further: you set goals for your payments operations, learn from your payments data, and you operate at maximum efficiency. While that might sound intimidating, we've identified five key objectives to guide your quest for payments optimization:

  1. Realizing your greatest revenue potential

  2. Keeping your total cost of payment acceptance low

  3. Decreasing fraud risk

  4. Understanding and serving your customers

  5. A/B testing new solutions

Let’s work through these payment optimization north stars one by one, and identify the ways Pagos can help you accomplish your goals!

Realizing Your Greatest Revenue Potential

Driving revenue growth in the name of payments optimization is not just about selling more—it's about selling smarter. In this sense, payment processing moves beyond simply a means for accepting payments to become a strategic tool for driving successful sales. With the right technologies and an informed analysis of historical payment trends, we believe every commerce business can unlock previously unimagined revenue potential!

Identify New Markets and Customers

A payment insight dashboard breaking down the most common shopper country and currency for a merchant's transactions.
A payment insight dashboard breaking down the most common shopper country and currency for a merchant's transactions.
A payment insight dashboard breaking down the most common shopper country and currency for a merchant's transactions.

The most obvious way to increase your revenue is to sell more to more people. In the past, doing so often required some trial and error of testing out new markets until you identified one where your business was in high demand. With a modern payments data visualization tool like Peacock by Pagos, however, you can instead use your historical payments data to quickly identify missed market opportunities and start immediately selling to new customers.

To get started, you simply connect your payment processor(s) to Pagos using our Data Ingestion API or our simple no-code data connections. We can ingest your historical and ongoing payments data—transactions, returns, refunds, chargebacks, and more—and normalize that data across sources so you can view it all together in one place. We display this data in a series of charts and graphs, organized into dashboards that make it easy for you to dig into specific markets, payment brands, or customer segments. 

Here are some examples of how you can identify new opportunities in your payments data:

  • View the breakdown of attempted transactions by customer country and currency to determine where your customer base is. You can then cater to those countries by setting up local processors, accepting desired currencies, and offering local payment methods at checkout. You can even increase marketing efforts or customize marketing campaigns for those regions, as well.

  • Identify the card types and brands that result in the highest average order value. By promoting these cards in your marketing messaging or highlighting them on your checkout page, you can drive sales to the customers who prefer them.

  • Using stored credential data, measure the split in your customer base between those who make one-time transactions and those who make recurring, card-on-file purchases. If more customers make purchases with vaulted payment methods, improving your vaulting process and encouraging more customers to store cards with you can drive sales volume.

Delight Existing Customers

Sometimes driving revenue doesn’t mean finding new customers, but simply improving experiences for existing customers. Competition in e-commerce is at an all-time high and nothing improves your bottom line quite like locking in loyal customers for repeat purchases. You may be familiar with the term “customer lifetime value” or LTV, which refers to the average amount of money a single customer will spend on your business over the life of their relationship with you. When it comes to realizing your greatest revenue potential, nothing is quite as effective as locking in customers for their estimated LTV.

Delight Customers by Storing (and Protecting) Payment Credentials

One surefire way to encourage repeat purchases is to offer customers the opportunity to safely store their preferred payment cards on file with your business. That being said, vaulted cards are only valuable to you and your customers if they’re kept up to date. To ensure customers can make repeat purchases with as little friction as possible, take advantage of account updater services from all four major card brands with Loon by Pagos. Whenever a customer’s stored card is lost, stolen, or replaced, Loon updates your vault with the new credentials—all without burdening the customer in any way. This is especially valuable to subscription businesses; if a customer’s payment method expires and they forget to manually update it in your system, they may involuntarily stop their subscription to your services. With Loon, this will never happen again.

Similarly, customer loyalty often hinges on your ability to keep stored payment methods safe and secure; no customer is going to keep coming back if they don’t trust you with their personal data. Toucan by Pagos has you covered with global network tokenization services for all four major card brands. Network tokenization is the process through which card brands substitute a cardholder’s primary account number (PAN) and other card details with a restricted-use, unique ID known as a network token. Storing network tokens instead of PANs greatly improves customer security, as fraudulent parties can’t use stolen network tokens to make purchases or even pull critical customer information from them.

Delight Customers by Accepting Their Payments

Customers are guaranteed to have a positive experience with your business (and will be more likely to return in the future) if they can successfully check out with the products or services they added to their cart. A decline of a legitimate transaction attempt will cause your customers to second guess their purchase, get frustrated with your brand, or—worst of all—turn to one of your competitors instead. 

By monitoring your decline data in Peacock and responding to them appropriately, you can both improve your bottom line and generate more happy customers. Here are just a few examples of the types of declines we’re talking about and how something as simple as responsive messaging on your checkout page can flip them to successful sales:

  • Non-Sufficient Funds (NSF) Declines - This decline indicates the customer doesn’t have enough funds in their account to cover the cost of their order; prompt the customer to provide an alternative payment method

  • Expired Card Declines - You can’t accept the customer’s payment card because it has expired; prompt the customer to update their credentials to an unexpired card

  • Invalid or Expiring Month/Year Declines - Customers often receive this type of decline when they accidentally type in the wrong value or write the date in the wrong format (e.g. MM/YY instead of MM/YYYY); prompt them to review their entry for typos

Respond to Outages Immediately

Another means for increasing revenue is by decreasing the impact of outages on attempted sales. Swiftly detecting and responding to outages ensures your customers can always make purchases, even during technical hiccups. In other words, when something goes wrong either with your systems, your payment processors, or even the card brands, your bottom line will suffer unless you act quickly.

For example, a processor outage can result in them declining hundreds if not thousands of legitimate transactions; if you can spot that revenue dip in real time and proactively alert the processor, you can get your systems back up and running before the issue kills your sales volume (and negatively impacts customer experiences). Similarly, you may have a setup error in your payments stack or even just on your website that blocks a subset of customers from checking out successfully. If you’re not actively monitoring your payments data, you might not realize the issue until your approval rate has degraded significantly.

Canary by Pagos, our ​​data anomaly detection solution, is the ideal tool for automatically monitoring every part of your payment processing infrastructure for outages. Using our no-code connections, you can connect your payment processors to Pagos and start monitoring incoming data immediately. Choose which metrics you want to monitor (e.g. approval rate, transaction count, etc.), and receive Canary alerts via email, Slack, or general webhook whenever they deviate from a historical norm or cross an acceptable threshold. 

Decreasing Total Cost of Payment Acceptance

You don’t need us to tell you how expensive payment processing is. With every transaction you process, you see the issuer, card brand, processor, and vendor fees leaving your pockets. It’s easy to feel like such fees are inevitable and completely out of your control—and in some ways, you’re not wrong. Fees come with the territory and go towards powering the infrastructure that makes ecommerce transactions possible and keeps customer data safe. 

But that doesn’t mean you’re powerless. In fact, the way your business operates directly impacts what fees you pay. Here are just a few of the payment processing decisions you make that shape what fees are levied against your business:

  • The vendors you use

  • The payment methods you accept

  • The countries you sell in and currencies you accept

  • What and how much data you pass with each transaction

  • How you manage refunds and chargebacks

Understanding how your strategic business decisions impact applied fees is important, because it empowers you to take control of your total payment costs and get one big step closer to payments optimization.

Establish your Baseline Costs

A payment insight dashboard analyzing a merchant's costs to process payments.
A payment insight dashboard analyzing a merchant's costs to process payments.
A payment insight dashboard analyzing a merchant's costs to process payments.

Running a profitable and optimized business requires you to know your baseline payment processing costs, understand how what you do impacts them, and continuously monitor fees to determine when to make strategic changes. Pagos makes this easier than ever with powerful tools that help you not only monitor all fee types, but identify opportunities in your payment processing strategy to cut down on the total fees you face.

To first establish a cost baseline, start with the Costs dashboard in Peacock—our data aggregation and visualization tool. Here you’ll find a collection of data visualizations demonstrating your fee data over time, aggregated across each payment processor you use. The Effective Rate chart specifically demonstrates your effective fee rate—your total fee amount divided by your total sale amount—for each of those processors. This is huge: with a single chart, you have a clearer picture than ever of how much your incoming dollars offset the simultaneous outpouring of fee payments, comparable across each of your payment service providers (PSPs), currencies, payment methods, and more.

Take Control of Your Processing

Now that you’ve established a cost baseline and understand the importance of tracking that value for each of your processors, let’s explore how you can directly impact your fee volume. Within Peacock, we divide your total fees across processors into categories—Interchange fees charged by card issuers, Assessments charged by card brands, and Processor fees—with each broken down further into subcategories. Our approach to categorization makes it possible to track fees regardless of how they may be reported to you, and buckets them together in a way that can help you understand what steps you can take to impact them. Here are just a few of the subcategories of fees you can make immediate changes in your processing to directly address:


Downgrades happen when a transaction doesn’t actually qualify for the best or optimal interchange rate possible, and instead is reclassified into a category with a higher fee rate. Transactions can be downgraded for various reasons, such as you didn’t pass the required cardholder data (e.g. AVS or CVV) or you took too long to settle the transaction. As you run different cost-saving experiments, you’ll want to track fluctuations in this bucket over time—big increases or unexpected changes can highlight a problem, a code change, or a configuration change.


Networks incentivize behaviors that promote good experiences for card holders, issuers, and the overall network health. To encourage good behavior, the networks may levy penalty fees on your business for a variety of reasons, such as authorization misuse, delayed settlements, and excessive retries. If you are retrying declined transactions, avoid additional fees by confirming automatic retry behavior with your acquirer, and following basic rules like never retrying transactions in hard decline categories. Overall, we recommend reassessing your payment processing setup and your strategies for dealing with declines or churn to balance the cost of those strategies and the risk of chargebacks against the possible increase in revenue.


Card networks have created some great products to help companies lower interchange costs and address churn: network tokenization and account updater. While you’ll pay fees to take advantage of these services, the overall cost can be controlled. For example, instead of tokenizing or updating all cards in your vault, you can choose to only keep cards associated with repeat buyers or subscriptions up to date. As you tune your models for card updates, you’ll want to track this and other value added services to ensure they aren’t eating into your margin—unless the revenue is there to support it.

Take Control of Your Exceptions

Fighting fraud and managing the risks associated with an online, card not present (CNP) business can consume a lot of operational time and expenses. It takes constant vigilance to fight ever-evolving fraud tactics while also keeping the associated costs low. Measuring off the cost baselines you’ve established, the following fee subcategories are particularly important to monitor:


Chargebacks always come with fees, whether from your processor, the card brands, or the card issuers. The way you respond to or accept disputed transactions directly impacts how heavy these fees can be. You’ll want to also ensure that you are getting charged accurately for what you respond (“represent”) to. Chargeback fees can add up quickly, and can result in further penalties if they get too high.


Stopping fraud protects your business and helps you avoid chargebacks. You’ll pay fraud service fees to your payment processors whenever you utilize their fraud protection services, but keeping track of the costs relative to revenue impact is important. As you adjust your fraud rules, always monitor fraud_services fees to ensure that it’s inline with your baseline.


Like chargebacks, refunds face fees from processors and card brands. You’ll be charged for each refund and you should track whether the related transaction interchange is returned (subject to your acquiring agreement). You can even subvert some of these fees by returning customer funds to a store card or a stored value credit.

Monitor Costly Transaction Events

Pagos can help you analyze more than just transactions and fees. We can also help you stay on top of transaction events, such as declines, refunds, and disputes. These events are important to keep an eye on because they come with their own associated direct and indirect costs. Tangible costs include the fees you pay to attempt transactions that fail, process refunds and chargebacks, and fight fraudulent transaction attempts. Other less direct costs include the time and resources spent internally to fight disputes, communicate with customers, and deliver on refunds. Similarly, any time your fraud rules stop legitimate transactions because they’re too restrictive, you pay fees for the fraud service and pay the opportunity cost of lost revenue. Ultimately, your cost burden can change significantly depending on how many declines, refunds, and chargebacks you see in any given month.

Using Peacock, you can monitor your declined, refunded, and disputed transaction volume and look for commonalities. For example, if you’re seeing the majority of your suspected fraud declines come from a particular region or are made with cards issued from a single issuing bank, you may design fraud rules to stop those transaction attempts in their tracks. Alternatively, you may determine that chargebacks are more common for one of your accepted payment methods, so you offer a different product or service offering to ensure revenue generated is enough to offset expected costs. 

Canary, our data anomaly detection service, monitors your payments data and alerts you in real time when something warrants your attention. Canary comes with a set of turnkey triggers that, when set, monitor your refund and chargeback volume for any deviations from the historical norm. Early detection of spikes in these transaction events is fundamental to keeping associated costs in check.

Advanced Cost Reduction Techniques

How you process and route individual transactions should be an adaptable and strategic decision-making process, backed by your own historical cost and general payments performance data. Here are just a few of examples of how you can use your aggregated payments data in Peacock to make routing decisions in the name of cost reduction:

  • Take advantage of alternate debit routing: As of July 2023, issuing banks must ensure all card-not-present debit transactions can be processed by at least two non-affiliated networks (learn more in our blog post on the Durbin Clarification). This change created more competition among debit networks, leading to them offering reduced interchange rates by up to 30% to merchants who route debit transactions through their network. By analyzing your historical debit card transaction volume, you can design a debit routing strategy centered around cost reduction.

  • Localize to avoid cross-border fees: When you accept transactions from customers in countries other than the one your business is domiciled in, you’re going to face cross-border fees. These processing fees are non-negotiable and charged by the card brands to cover the costs of international commerce. Analyzing your aggregated payments data broken down by presentment currency, you can determine where you can reduce cross-border costs by setting up local processors to route foreign transaction volume through a new local subsidiary.

  • Pass Level II and III Data: If you pass Level II and III card data when processing qualifying card transactions, you can obtain lower interchange rates. The Level 2 and Level 3 Eligible Transactions chart in your Card Brand dashboard in Peacock identifies the portion of your transaction volume eligible for Level II and III processing (and associated cost savings).

Check out our product documentation to learn more about the different dashboards and charts available to you in Peacock.

Let Pagos Carry the Burden

In addition to implementing manual cost-saving strategies, businesses can simply leverage Pagos’ technology to automate and streamline their payment operations, further reducing costs and enhancing efficiency. Here are some ways Pago’s products can support cost optimization:

Automated Data Monitoring: As the sections above demonstrate, Peacock and Canary’s automated data monitoring help you track and analyze your transaction volume, processing fees, and other key metrics in real time. With these powerful tools, you can identify potential cost-saving opportunities and take corrective action as needed. Even more, by letting us do the work for you, you save your payments team from manually aggregating data across processors and generating visuals that go out of date as soon as they’re made. Simply log into Peacock and Canary, connect your processors with our no-code data connections, and see real-time data in seconds.

Network Tokenization Made Easy: Utilizing network tokens will save your business money by increasing security, decreasing involuntary churn, and attracting lower interchange and network fees. That being said, traditional network tokenization strategies require you to generate tokens through each of your processors individually and manage relationships with card brands. Save yourself even more with Toucan, Pagos’ network tokenization service. Toucan provides you with processor-agnostic network tokens, meaning you can generate a single network token for each customer’s primary account number (PAN) and use it to process transactions through any processor you use. Pagos also manages any ongoing maintenance with the card brands and allows you to keep your credentials up to date, helping you fight involuntary churn from reissuance and other card life cycle events.

Global Account Updater Services: Keeping stored payment credentials up to date saves you from wasting money by attempting transactions with expired or replaced card credentials. If you’re looking to use account updater services for all your vaulted cards, globally and across all major card brands, look no further than Loon by Pagos. Pay for only the updates you want and leave the card brand management to us, and rake in the benefits of increased approval rates, reduced churn, and improved customer satisfaction.

Manage Vendors With Aggregated Fee Data: If you want to regularly review and negotiate rates with payment processors, card brands, and other vendors, you need a single source of fee data to work off. Puffin, the Pagos aggregated data exporter, allows you to download all the details of your harmonized transaction and cost data to do with as you please. Instead of spending time and money downloading invoices and mapping specific fees over time to use in negotiations for better rates, you can download exactly what you need using Puffin!

Fighting Fraud

Fighting fraud is a natural extension of the second objective, as managing fraudulent chargebacks is an expensive endeavor that can drive up your operational costs. This includes losing out on the original sale and the processing fees paid to accept it, chargeback fees charged by payment service providers (PSPs) to process disputes, and the time and resources spent fighting fraudulent chargebacks. Sometimes additional vendors are needed just to manage this, adding even further costs. In severe cases, excessive fraud chargebacks may lead to enrollment in expensive dispute-monitoring programs by card brands! 

Let’s dig into what you can do to optimize payments by protecting your business from fraud.

Fraud-Fighting Tactics

As technology evolves and more commerce moves into the card-not-present space, fraud has become increasingly sophisticated. Fraudsters continuously adapt their tactics, making it imperative for businesses to optimize their payment processing by mitigating risk. 

Key strategies to combat fraud:

  1. Customize Fraud Rules: Tailor your fraud rules with each payment processor or your fraud platform provider to detect and prevent fraudulent transactions effectively. By analyzing transaction data to identify patterns indicative of fraud (e.g. BIN values, issuing banks, issuing countries, card types, etc.), you can configure rules to flag suspicious activities.

  2. Real-time Fraud Detection: Proactive monitoring and detection of fraud attacks as they occur is essential to minimize losses and protect your business’s reputation. If you don’t find out about a fraud attack until the fraudulent chargebacks start rolling in, it’s even harder to mitigate associated costs.

  3. Chargeback Response Optimization: Optimizing your response to chargebacks is critical in reducing the financial impact of fraudulent transactions. By implementing efficient dispute resolution processes and providing compelling evidence to refute fraudulent claims, you can increase your chances of winning chargeback disputes and recovering lost revenue.

Going From Reactive to Strategic with Data

If the quest for payment optimization hinges on fraud mitigation, then your business needs to design a comprehensive and adaptable strategy for fighting fraud. Even more, you need data on how that strategy is performing across your key payments metrics to really understand if and when you need to make changes. And when we say data, we don’t just mean the count of how many carding attacks you stopped, but also how your overall revenue and approval rate fluctuated in response to any new tools and rules you implemented. 

At Pagos, we understand that nothing empowers you more to protect yourself from fraud than the ability to visualize fraud metrics in the context of your overall payment metrics. Peacock offers powerful data dashboards covering every aspect of your payment processing ecosystem, allowing you to combine your fraud rule data with standard payment attributes and metrics. With real time and historical data from all your payment processors harmonized together in one place, you can identify if your fraud strategy is protecting you while still allowing your business to grow and acquire new customers.

One of the main ways Peacock enhances fraud system orchestration is by making it easier to segment your payments data into important verticals so you can catch the early warning signs of where your fraud rules may be too restrictive or not protective enough. For example, the Decline Codes dashboard demonstrates your declined transaction volume over time, broken down by the assigned decline reason codes and other identifying traits such as payment method or stored credential type. With this dashboard, you can single out suspected fraud declines to look for trends. When your fraud rules are configured correctly, you should expect to see big spikes of suspected_fraud or refer_to_issuer declines as a proportion of total declines. If that’s not the case, then something has changed in the attack patterns and your rules may need a tweak. Equally important is understanding which payment methods see the biggest change in volume or declines over time. You may stop accepting a payment method that’s favored by fraudsters (such as non-reloadable debit cards) or promote alternative payment methods with more security. In extreme cases, you may move out of markets where the fraud cost is too high.

A payment insight dashboard analyzing the most common decline codes for a merchant's transactions.
A payment insight dashboard analyzing the most common decline codes for a merchant's transactions.
A payment insight dashboard analyzing the most common decline codes for a merchant's transactions.

If you’re employing fraud fighting technology like 3D Secure (in countries where it isn’t required), the data in Peacock can also help you confirm if the added security is worth the cost of implementation and doesn’t negatively impact your website sales funnel. 3D Secure can be extremely beneficial, as it both challenges fraudsters at checkout and shifts chargeback liability from your business to the issuing bank. That being said, your business pays fees every time you process a 3DS transaction, meaning there’s a literal price tag on your reduced fraud risk. Additionally, 3DS checks can occasionally block valid transactions, meaning you’ll have to spend more marketing money to replace those prospects with new buyers coming through your website. Using the 3D Secure dashboard in Peacock, you can visualize the frequency by which you employ 3DS, including a breakdown of the 3DS version used. You'll also find data on the success rate by processor for 3DS transactions, and the response code breakdown for these transactions. Only with this complete picture can you feel confident in continuing with or even expanding your 3DS strategy, whether through your PSPs or a third-party 3DS solution provider.

A payment insight dashboard analyzing the percentage of transactions that use 3D Secure.
A payment insight dashboard analyzing the percentage of transactions that use 3D Secure.
A payment insight dashboard analyzing the percentage of transactions that use 3D Secure.

Real-Time Fraud Detection

If Peacock empowers you to assess the effectiveness of your fraud response strategy, Canary offers a solution for making strategic adjustments to it in real-time. This powerful data anomaly detection service significantly reduces the work and time needed to see when a fraud rule or tool might not be effective in a market or channel, allowing you to find out at the moment when you need to make changes. 

In your Canary account, you can build out completely custom triggers to monitor any desired segment of your business. Say you identified prepaid cards as the payment method of choice for most fraudsters attacking your business; you can configure a trigger in Canary to monitor only transactions made with prepaid cards and alert you when transaction volume spikes, approval rates drop, or even when the volume of declines with specific decline codes changes unexpectedly. Ultimately, Canary is the tool for staying on top of any anomaly that may indicate fraudulent activities.

Dealing With Card-Reissuance

A credit card with the card number replaced with locks showing the enhanced security network tokens offer.
A credit card with the card number replaced with locks showing the enhanced security network tokens offer.
A credit card with the card number replaced with locks showing the enhanced security network tokens offer.

Thus far, we’ve discussed fraud only in the context of how it impacts your business when fraudulent parties attack you. Another side of fraud is an experience customers across the globe know all too well: fraudsters stealing their payment credentials. While this issue directly impacts customers who have to dispute charges with their bank and request new card details, fraud of this kind has a trickle-down effect on businesses like yours. When a customer’s card is reissued, the PAN you’ve stored on file for them no longer works; the customer will need to manually log into their account and update their payment credentials before you can ever charge them again. This added friction often results in customer churn, especially for recurring business models.

Pagos offers two solutions for protecting your business from this inevitability: Loon and Toucan. Loon is a global account updater service, designed to keep vaulted card credentials from all four major card brands (Visa, Mastercard, Discover, and Amex) up to date. Whenever a customer’s stored card is replaced—whether due to fraud or simply because it expired—you’ll receive the updated card details automatically, all without any work from the cardholder themselves. Similarly, our network tokenization service—Toucan—eliminates the need for manual card updates by replacing stored card credentials with secure network tokens. Network tokens are inherently decoupled from their underlying card, meaning customers can make purchases from you even when their card information changes. When you employ services like Loon and Toucan, your customers never have to manually update their cards on file to maintain a relationship with your businesses.

Understanding and Serving Your Customers

Payments are the lifeblood of commerce, but customers are the true life source. Without customers to buy what you’re selling, you can’t call yourself a business, much less an optimized one. That’s why the fourth objective in your journey to payments optimization is simply getting to know the people who are purchasing from you or might want to.

Using Your Payments Data to Study Existing Customers

Using Your Payments Data to Study Existing Customers
Using Your Payments Data to Study Existing Customers
Using Your Payments Data to Study Existing Customers

As with all the other key objectives in this guide, we’re going to start off by talking about payments data. When it comes to identifying who your customers are and how they make purchases, your historical payments data is the holy grail. Using Peacock, you can visualize all that useful data from each of your processors side-by-side in a single place and easily dig into any defining characteristic of your customer base. Here are a selection of the customer attributes you can segment out in Peacock and the actionable insights they can provide your business:

Tracking Payment Method Mix

Knowing the mix of payment methods your customers use provides valuable insights into their preferences and behaviors. Peacock includes a dashboard of visualizations dedicated specifically to payment methods, demonstrating not only the count of transactions attempted, but the approval rate, average order value (AOV), and decline code breakdown for each payment method you accept. At a glance, you can identify which of your offered payment methods customers gravitate towards and those that contribute the most to your incoming revenue. Peacock’s Cards dashboard drills down further by breaking down your card transaction volume by card brand, card type, and even BIN. Learn what cards customers prefer and where in the world they’re located, and even pinpoint why certain cards might not be worth the cost of acceptance.

Armed with all this information, you may:

  • Promote one of your accepted payment methods more in advertisements or at checkout because it’s associated with customers who purchase larger orders (high AOV)

  • Stop accepting a payment method, card brand, or card type because it’s unpopular among your customer base (low transaction count)

  • Test out accepting a new payment method or card to visualize how it impacts customer behavior over time (i.e. do you attract new customers? Did old customers buy more at a higher approval rate? Did you just invite more fraud?)

  • Identify the income associated with a specific payment method to compare against the cost of accepting it (i.e. do you bring in enough revenue from non-reloadable prepaid cards to make it worth the cost of higher fraud or chargeback rates?)

Utilizing Stored Credential Data

When you accept a transaction, your processor passes a stored credential field containing a wealth of information about the transaction and the customer who made it. Did the customer initiate the transaction or did you? Was the transaction for a repeat customer using vaulted payment credentials? Are you processing a one time transaction, a subscription payment, or an installment? Was the transaction conducted in person via point of sale (POS), online, or even over the phone? It may be hard to believe you can answer so many questions using a single data field, but it’s true. (Learn more in our Stored Credential Field guide.)

Segmenting your payments data by stored credential—as you can in Peacock’s Stored Credentials dashboard—is incredibly valuable in any payments performance analysis. When it comes to understanding your customers, you can use this single field to quickly identify purchase patterns across sales channels and product types. For example, if your business model caters to both one-time and subscription purchases, you can identify which may be more popular with certain customer segments and identify opportunities for expansion. Should you notice first time and repeat customers have different preferences, you may even tailor your offerings to match. This data can also help you gauge customer loyalty and retention rates, allowing you to optimize your marketing strategies accordingly.

Analyzing Presentment Currencies

If you’re running a global business, you by definition sell in multiple countries and accept a variety of currencies. Currency then becomes an extremely valuable parameter by which to explore your payments data, especially for identifying the ways your customer base wants to transact with you. In simply tracking currency mix per country, you can identify opportunities to expand your business and make adjustments to better serve your customers' needs; for example, if your business is seeing more transactions coming in from a particular country, you may consider offering your products and services in a local currency for higher conversion. You may even find it profitable to establish local processing where your customers are to offer even more localized payment options and pricing, and optimize currency conversion processes. As you make these changes, you can track how customers respond in Peacock’s Currencies dashboard.

Digging in at the BIN Level

When you process card transactions, you ingest the bank identification number (BIN) for each card. This number provides you with detailed bank and market data for the card used and subsequently, the customer it belongs to. Many of these BIN data points then make perfect parameters for segmenting your transaction volume into distinct groups—something you can easily do in Peacock using our BIN data filter. For example, you can look for patterns in purchasing behavior among customers with cards issued in a particular country or from a specific issuing bank. You can even go so granular as to break out all transactions made with a specific card product (e.g. Mastercard Corporate Card or Amex Prepaid card).

Once you know more about the cards your customers use, you can adapt your marketing and checkout strategy accordingly. This can be as simple as featuring the cards you know customers want to use on your checkout page with card art, or as formal as building targeted marketing campaigns to specific cardholders.

Monitoring Market Trends to Attract New Customers

Looking at your historical payments data teaches you a lot about your current customer base and how you can better cater to their needs. To achieve full payments optimization, however, you need to go one step further and learn more about the buyers out there you haven’t yet transacted with. In other words, you need to better understand what potential customers want so you can grow your brand.

Monitoring Trends in Popular Payment Methods

Keeping up with trends in popular payment methods is essential for staying competitive. Start by determining the demographic you want to find traction in; for example, are you looking to break into a specific region or do you want to pull in more customers from the younger generation of buyers? Researching payment method preferences among your desired customer base (while also taking into account compliance and resource considerations), you can make informed decisions about which payment methods to offer and adapt your checkout processes accordingly. 

Adapting your payment method offerings to meet customer demand is essential to any payments optimization strategy, especially in today’s rapidly evolving ecommerce landscape. According to the Merchant Risk Council’s 2024 Global eCommerce Payments & Fraud Report, 82% of merchants added at least one new payment method to their checkout in 2023. Among those new offerings, we see real-time payments (RTP), buy now, pay later (BNPL), digital wallets, debit, and mobile payments growing at the fastest rates. If customers are adopting new payments technologies, your business (and your revenue) can only benefit from keeping pace.

As you add new payment methods, monitor your incoming transaction, decline, refund, and chargeback data to determine which ones to keep offering in the long run. Regularly reassessing your payment method options ensures you're meeting customer expectations and maximizing profitability. You may also want to solicit feedback from customers directly about their preferred payment methods, and evaluate the performance of new payment options to determine their impact on conversion rates and customer satisfaction.

Mobile Payments

While we’re talking about keeping up with market trends to maximize customer outreach and satisfaction, it feels important to recognize the increasing demand for mobile payment solutions. By ensuring your payment processes are optimized for mobile devices and offering convenient mobile payment options, you can meet the evolving needs of your customers and stay ahead of the competition. This includes supporting popular mobile wallets and integrating with mobile payment platforms to provide a seamless checkout experience across all devices. And don’t worry, the Payment Methods dashboard in Peacock can help you stay informed of which mobile wallets (e.g. Apple Pay, Google Pay, etc.) your customer base uses the most.

Delivering a Seamless Checkout Experience

Creating a seamless checkout experience is essential for customer satisfaction. Analyze both your transaction data and your website traffic to identify any friction points in the checkout process that might cause customers to abandon their purchases. Are you offering the right mix of payment methods? Do you see a significant number of CVV declines indicating poorly calibrated security checks like 3D Secure? Is your checkout process excessively lengthy?

Loon and Toucan—our global account updater and network tokenization tools—can help you better serve your customers at checkout by ensuring stored payment credentials are secure and up to date. We discussed the power of employing these tools to increase revenue in the section above on objective #1, increasing revenue. This exemplifies the interconnected nature of payments optimization! Getting to know and better serving your customers not only serves to bolster brand satisfaction, but increases revenue and gets you even closer to optimization.

Identifying Which Customers Are Actually Friendly Fraudsters

Thus far, we’ve outlined methods for better understanding who your customers are so you can provide them with the best experience possible. While you’re getting to know who your good customers are, however, you may also want to familiarize yourself with your fraudulent customers. Specifically the friendly fraudsters.

Friendly fraud or first-party misuse is often used to describe situations where a cardholder purchases a product or service with their own card, but later issues a fraud chargeback against the charge. In the 2024 Global Payments and Fraud Report, the Merchant Risk Council identified a form of friendly fraud that has become a trending issue for commerce businesses worldwide: refund abuse. This occurs when a customer abuses your refund policies, for example:

  • Ordering enough products or services to satisfy your free shipping minimum with the intent to immediately return any unwanted items

  • Disputing and requesting a refund on the same item, or requesting multiple refunds on the same item with the intent to make a profit

  • Returning empty boxes or boxes of random items

  • Fraudulently claiming they didn’t receive the full order and requesting replacements or refunds

Using the Refunds dashboard in Peacock, you can monitor for potential refund abuse or fraudulent activity. If you ask your customers to provide a reason for their returns, you can even compare your Peacock refund data to these anecdotal return reasons to identify trends in shady behavior. In analyzing unusual patterns or discrepancies in the data, you may even be able to identify the customers abusing your return policies or engaging in fraudulent refund practices, and implement measures to prevent future abuse. 

A/B Testing New Solutions

A/B testing is less an independent objective and more an extension of all our other optimization goals. To hone in on the best strategies for maximizing revenue or combatting fraud, for example, you need to continuously run some tests!

Staying Competitive Through Innovation

Why should you A/B test? In an ecommerce world where customers have seemingly endless options, it’s vital to present the best and most efficient shopping experience possible. This can mean constantly evolving your business and the goods or services you sell, but it can also mean regularly adjusting your payment processes to meet the ever-changing needs and preferences of customers, changing network rules, and even the risk appetite of issuers. A/B testing offers a strategic approach to innovating and removing friction; with a limited test, you can experiment with new processors, payment methods, markets, and even checkout experiences, all while measuring performance side-by-side with more established strategies.

Ultimately, there’s no one right answer on how to process payments or how to do better than your competitors—it’s specific to your business model. As such, you need to test changes with your product and your customer base to determine what moves the needle. We’ve provided some payments optimization north stars, and nothing will get you closer to them than well-tested and trusted solutions developed in-house by the people who know your business best.

Testing in the Complex World of Payments

When identifying the results of an A/B test, always keep in mind exactly how complex payment processing is. Because of these complexities, the introduction of one new or different variable will never shift only a single metric within your payments data; instead, you’re likely to see a rippling effect throughout your entire setup, across markets and even sales channels! This is important, because determining the success of any A/B test requires you to weigh any improvements against negative impacts. 

For example, launching a new payment processor can present a myriad of challenges. Doing so could mean you’ve expanded into new markets, can now accept local payment methods, or have a lower cost option for processing specific transaction types. Regardless, this one change presents a plethora of variables that can impact customer experience and your bottom line. Questions arise: Does the new processor create more checkout friction? Does it result in higher approval rates for specific transaction types? Do you see more transactions coming in, but with payment methods that cost more to process? Are refunds more difficult to process or take a longer time to go through?

A/B testing provides a structured framework to systematically evaluate these variables and determine optimal solutions. You can introduce the new payment processor by first processing only a portion of your transaction volume through it. Then, after a sufficient length of time, review the data in its entirety: approval rate, transaction volume, decline code breakdown, total fees, chargeback rates, refund rate, and more. Only by comparing these metrics across your historical data for the new processor against the control group (your pre-existing processors) can you identify the comprehensive impact of your test.

Leveraging Pagos Products for A/B Testing

Pagos products offer invaluable tools for conducting A/B tests seamlessly. Here are just some ways you can leverage the Pagos suite of services to evaluate the results of any changes you make to your payment processing setup: 

Visualizing Payments Data Before and During a Test

The dashboards in Peacock allow you to visualize changes to your payment metrics over time and across different segments of your customer base or lines of business. With such easy access to your clean data, you can identify the most important segments of your business or places where you have room for growth—areas where A/B tests might have the most impact.

Peacock is also then the ultimate tool for measuring the impact of an A/B test. Here are just a few ways you can use it:

  • The Processors dashboard in Peacock provides you with a single place to evaluate the performance of new processors or modifications to volume allocation among different payment service providers (PSPs). Compare the transaction volume, approval rate, and decline code breakdown for old and new processors side-by-side, and even see which payment methods perform better through each.

  • The Payment Methods dashboard facilitates in-depth analysis of transaction volume, average order value, and approval rates for newly introduced payment methods.

  • Using the data filter options in Peacock, you can look at only the specific segments of your transaction volume you're most concerned about. If you start accepting a new currency, you can filter the Fees dashboard—for example—to only show fees associated with transactions made in that currency, and identify the exact cost of accepting it. If you pass custom data with your transactions (e.g. soft descriptors or metadata), you can even filter Peacock charts and dashboards by those custom parameters.

  • Create a custom dashboard of the data visualizations most relevant to your A/B test. You can even filter each chart in your dashboard by a different parameter, allowing you to see the same data for different data segments side by side. For example, build a custom dashboard for monitoring chargeback rates and volume for each of your individual MIDs; see our Pagos Product Documentation for a full guide on how to do this!

Monitoring Test Results in Real Time

The last thing you want is for an A/B test to result in massive losses for your company. If a small change to your payment processing setup actually directly hurts your business, you’d want to know immediately. That’s where Canary can help! With this anomaly detection service, you can set acceptable thresholds for specific payment metrics, and tell Canary to alert you whenever your data measures outside of those bounds. You can even tell Canary where to alert you should unexpected shifts occur—via email, slack message, or through a generic webhook. 

Consider a situation where you attempt to increase approval rates by testing less restrictive CVV/AVS rules on a subset of your transaction volume. You hope to see more approved transactions, but accept the risk of potentially seeing an increase in fraud. An indicator that fraudsters are taking advantage of your experiment would be a sudden increase in your chargebacks or a change in the distribution of declines. To stay on top of this, you configure a Canary trigger that monitors chargeback count and alerts you if it increases above what has been typical for your business historically. In addition you can configure a trigger monitoring the share of fraud decline codes to further build awareness around how changes are impacting your key metrics and business. Should your data ever trip the trigger, you can stop the experiment immediately.

Identifying Testing Opportunities with Benchmark Data

If A/B testing can help you evolve your business and stay competitive, how do you actually identify where your business might not be matching up with industry peers when it comes to payment processing capability and functionality? 

Flamingo, our payments benchmarking service, allows you to anonymously compare your payments data to that of your industry peers—making it possible for you to know in the moment when your business isn’t keeping up with the market. How does your approval rate compare? Or your refund rate? Are other businesses experiencing the same declines you are, or is there something with your setup that’s turning away a disproportionate number of potential customers? Find all the answers in Flamingo, then design a strategy for A/B testing solutions.

Digging Deep Into Your Test Results

We’ve talked about how in the complicated world of payments, you expect A/B tests to have complex and rippling results throughout your payments setup. To really dig deep into the ways a test impacts your data, you’ll need a single, accessible, clean source of all your payments data across all your PSPs. With Puffin, our payments data warehouse, you can download reports of your aggregated and harmonized payments data to integrate into a custom workflow or for use in complex data analyses.

Payments Optimization Unlocked!

Payments optimization is not a one-size-fits-all solution—it involves a strategic approach tailored to your unique business needs. But while the approach may differ, we believe every commerce business can realize their highest payments potential with a strategy centered around these five optimization cornerstones: cutting costs, increasing revenue, delighting customers, reducing fraud, and market testing new solutions.

Contact our Sales team for a demo of what Pagos can do to get your business one step closer to optimized payments!

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Pagos helps you achieve optimal payments performance.

Pagos helps you achieve optimal payments performance.