Optimize Your Business with Payment Metrics: Key Insights You Can’t Ignore

As a merchant, you possess a wealth of data that holds invaluable insights into the effectiveness of your payment processes and strategy. Yet this treasure chest of information is often underutilized because merchants and PayFacs struggle to determine which data to review and which metrics to measure.

According to a recent webinar hosted by Paypers, approximately 40% of multinational merchants track only one to three payment metrics, and none of these metrics are monitored by more than 50% of merchants.

This limited approach only provides a narrow view into your payment health, potentially causing you to overlook gaps and opportunities for savings.

To gain a better understanding of your payment strategy, it’s essential to monitor a broader range of payment metrics. In this post, we’ll delve into some payment metrics we believe are instrumental in improving your payment strategy and driving business growth.

What are Payment Metrics?

Payment metrics are key performance indicators (KPIs) that are used to measure, monitor, and optimize payment systems and processes. They provide visibility into your payment operations’ reliability, efficiency, and profitability. Through continuous monitoring of these KPIs, you can identify issues and opportunities to improve your customer payment experience.

There are 7 payment metrics that we encourage our clients to prioritize:

Authorization Rate
Transaction Success Rate
Payment Retry Rate
Customer Retention Rate
Chargeback Rate
Downgrade Rate
Effective Cost

These payment metics provide visibility into the end-to-end payment process and enable you to maximize your bottom line.

Why Payment Metrics Matter

Beyond cost savings, payment metrics play a crucial role in customer satisfaction, identifying blind spots, and increasing profitability.

Analyzing and making decisions based on payment metrics leads to smoother, glitch-free transactions, resulting in happier customers who trust your business and are more likely to return, thereby increasing revenue and profitability. For example, a small improvement of just 1% in your cart abandonment rate can boost revenue by 10%. Additionally, reducing payment errors and speeding up transactions can save costs related to manual reviews and customer service inquiries.

Reviewing the right payment metrics also helps identify problem areas and bottlenecks that may be holding your business back. Tracking transaction times can highlight delays in processing or authentication. Analyzing disputes and fraud data reveals vulnerabilities, while conversion rate metrics expose areas where customers are struggling or abandoning payments. With data-driven insights, you can pinpoint and prioritize opportunities to streamline operations and boost revenue.

7 Payment Metrics to Create a Holistic View of Your Payments Health

Authorization Rate
The authorization rate, also known as the approval ratio, measures the number of completed transactions your acquirers have successfully processed. It’s calculated by dividing the number of successful transactions by total transactions. A high authorization rate indicates that your payments system is working smoothly, and customers are providing valid payment details. While a low authorization rate indicates your customers may be experiencing failed transactions.

Transaction Success Rate
Your transaction success rate measures how many of your payments are approved. It’s typically expressed by a percentage, calculated by dividing the number of approved transactions by the number of attempted transactions over a given period.

It’s important to note that this KPI does include second or third attempts to complete a transaction, so there may not always be an exact correlation between your transaction success rate and your bottom line.

Merchants typically find this metric useful when they have multiple payment gateways and want to compare performance as well as when analyzing the purchasing behavior of various customer segments.

Also, keep in mind that there are payment processors that will penalize you for a low TSR, because it may be seen as a sign of fraud.

Customer Retention Rate
Customer retention rate is an important metric especially for subscription businesses, as it shows what percentage of your customers you are keeping versus what percentage you are losing over a specific period of time (monthly, quarterly, annually, etc.).

To calculate it, simply

  1. Take the number of customers at the end of your chosen period
  2. Subtract the total of new customers gained within that period
  3. Divide that result by the number of customers at the beginning of the period

For example, if at the beginning of 2024 you had 500 customers and by the end of the first quarter, you acquired 50 more customers, but you also lost 10.


Retention Rate = ((Ending Customers – New Customers) / Starting Customers) * 100


Retention rate = ((540-50) / 500) * 100 = 98%

For those who prefer not to “look at the bright side,” you can measure customer churn rate, which is the exact opposite. (customers lost/total users) * 100

Chargeback Rate
The chargeback rate is a KPI that tracks the number of transactions that a merchant has processed compared to the total number of chargebacks that the merchant has received. It’s essential for fraud detection and analysis. It’s simply dividing the total number of chargebacks by the total number of transactions, and multiplying the total by 100.

For example, if you process 300 transactions and receive 6 chargebacks, your chargeback rate is .6%. 

Your chargeback rate can significantly influence your relationship with your bank acquirers, credit card processors, and networks. Credit card networks often have predetermined limits for acceptable chargeback ratios, which can vary differently by industry.

Interchange downgrades occur in credit card processing when a transaction fails to meet certain criteria set by card networks. When your transactions fail to meet these criteria, it is downgraded to a higher interchange category, resulting in higher processing fees for you.

Businesses are often the cause of their downgrades for various reasons, such as incomplete transaction data, late settlement, or processing errors. But, the good news is, once you identify the cause of your downgrades, you can reduce them.

Effective Cost
Effective cost in payments refers to the total cost incurred by a merchant for processing a payment transaction, taking into account all associated fees and charges. This includes not only the interchange fees charged by card networks but also other fees such as processing fees charged by payment processors, gateway fees, assessment fees, and any additional charges the network may have.

Calculating the effective cost of a payment transaction enables you to evaluate the overall affordability and efficiency of your payment processing solutions.

Payment Retry Rate
Payment retries occur when you attempt to process a payment after a failed attempt. This metric is important to track in subscription-based and recurring billing models, where regular payments are critical to business operations. Understanding and effectively managing payment retries are vital for businesses aiming to reduce churn rates and improve successful transaction rates. By tracking and analyzing payment retries, you can gain insights into underlying issues causing payment failures, and implement targeted optimization strategies.

Improving Your Performance with Payment Data

Now that we’ve covered the definitions, you may be wondering how to utilize this data to improve your payment performance. Here are several ways to leverage insights from payment data analysis to inform your business decisions:

1. Adding or Eliminating Payment Methods

By analyzing usage and conversion data, you can determine which payment methods are most popular and effective for your customers. This can guide you in adding new, preferred payment options or eliminating underperforming ones. For instance, if data shows a significant portion of your customers prefer digital wallets over credit cards, integrating more digital wallet options could increase conversions and customer satisfaction.

2. Optimizing Flows and User Experience

Understanding the differences in user behavior on mobile versus desktop can help you optimize the checkout flow for each platform. For example, if mobile users frequently abandon their carts, you might simplify the mobile checkout process or enhance mobile payment options to reduce friction. This ensures a seamless and user-friendly experience across all devices, potentially increasing conversion rates.

3. Balancing Fraud Prevention with Minimizing Friction

Payment data can highlight areas where fraud is most likely to occur, allowing you to strengthen security measures. However, it’s crucial to balance fraud prevention with minimizing friction for legitimate customers. Excessive security checks can lead to cart abandonment, so use data to find an optimal balance. For example, employing machine learning models that adapt in real-time can help differentiate between legitimate and fraudulent transactions with greater accuracy, reducing unnecessary hurdles for customers.

4. Benchmarking Metrics Against Industry Standards

Comparing your cost per transaction and other key metrics against industry standards helps identify areas where you may be overspending or underperforming. For instance, if your cost per transaction is higher than the industry average, you might explore more cost-effective payment processors or negotiate better rates with your current provider.

5. Identifying Tools, Features, or Providers

Data analysis can reveal gaps in your current payment system that could be filled by new tools, features, or providers. For example, if you notice high levels of chargebacks or transaction declines, you might invest in advanced fraud detection tools or switch to a payment processor with better approval rates. Similarly, if user feedback indicates a demand for recurring billing options, incorporating this feature could enhance your service offerings and customer retention.

How Optimize Payments Can Help

At Optimized Payments, our engagements start with a full audit, where we evaluate every metric available in our Harmonize platform to find savings and opportunities.  Our consultants will ingest all of your data and compile our findings into a very comprehensive deck and walk you through each of our recommendation. We’ll act as an extension of your payments team, helping your prioritize and strategize how to execute them.

Do you know how well your payments process is performing

With our Payment Performance Health Check, we will take a portion of your payments data, analyze with our platform, and have our team of experts review it to  identify potential areas of savings and opportunities for improvement. 

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