Some question about the variable definition of spending data

I have some clarification questions regarding the “transaction_intermediary” variable listed in the spending data those questions are:

  • What does the value of “No intermediation” represents? Does it mean the transaction was completed by paying cash, or does it mean that the intermediation information is not available for those transactions?

  • The online description states: “The number of transactions at this POI is based on the intermediary through which the transaction was made, if any. Transactions can have multiple intermediaries, in which case the number of transactions will be incremented for each intermediary.” Can you please clarify what exactly this variable measures? For some intermediaries, it is pretty clear what it measures. For example, a transaction intermediated by GrubHub was probably placed through the GrubHub app. However, what does it mean to have a transaction intermediated by Visa? Does that mean the consumer used a Visa credit card? Similarly, what does it mean to have a transaction intermediated by Square? Does that mean the store has a Square POS system?

  • For the transactions having multiple intermediaries, for example, if the transaction was completed through DoorDash at KFC, and paid with a visa credit card(or Apple Pay) within the DoorDash app, under such case, is the transaction counted both under the DoorDash and Visa(Apple Pay) category when counting the number of transactions?

Thank you for the help!

  1. No intermediary does not mean cash. It means either no intermediary metadata was available and/or it was a direct card charge (i.e., not through an intermediary like apple Pay).

  2. Visa has a shared checkout option similar to Paypal, that’s what the “Visa” intermediary means in that context. Similarly with Square: mostly this means the store has a Square POS system, but there are Square intermediaries that aren’t necessarily POS, e.g., Square Online, so “Square” would cover that payment processing method as well.

  3. Correct. DoorDash through Apple Pay would mean there would be a 1 in Apple Pay and also in DoorDash. Just paying with a visa credit card doesn’t flag the transaction as through the “Visa” intermediary though.

Hi Evan,

Thank you very much for your reply! May I ask a few follow-up questions?

  • For your answers to the second question, is there a way to distinguish how many transactions of “Square” mean the stores have a Square POS system and how many transactions represent “Square Online”?

  • For your answers to my third question, just want to be clear, if the consumer completes the transaction through Doordash and pays through the visa credit card linked to Doordash, under such a case, there would be only 1 count in DoorDash (without any other additional intermediary in this transaction) right?

Thanks again for your time and help!

  • I don’t think we have looked into yet how much “Square” means POS system vs “Square Online”; however I think Square should mostly mean POS system since I don’t think Square Online is that widely used.
  • Correct. “Visa” should only appear as an intermediary if they use the Paypal-like Visa system (where they can actually use any type of card, funnily enough).

Thanks, Jeff! That’s very helpful!

Can I ask one more follow-up question, please? Does your first answer mean that there is detailed data available from your end on how much “Square” means POS system or those further detailed data is not available? In other words, I think my question is not about the “Square” specifically, it’s about whether there is data based on a more specified transaction intermediary category system available? Many thanks!!

The latter - further data is not available. What we see on our side is a transaction string, so no information about the POS system explicitly. If you look at your own credit card statements, that’s a reasonable proxy for what we get, and what is provided in the Spend product is based on the information inferred from the transaction string.

Hi Jeff,

Thank you very much for your help!

I also have some other questions about the “transaction_type” variable in the “transaction_panel_summary.csv” data files. I notice that this variable is defined as “The number of transactions in this dataset, based on the type of transaction,” and there are two key options, “bank”(referring to debit cards) and “card” (referring to credit cards). According to your previous answers to my question, the transactions using either debit card or credit card should be categorized as the transactions with “No intermediary” in the spending data, then I am wondering how your team aggregates and generates the “transaction_type” in the summary data files? Are they aggregated from the spending data or not? Can we also get the number of transactions using debit(“bank”) vs. credit(“card”) at each POI in each month (since I didn’t find any variables indicating this information in the spending dataset)?

Thank you again for your help! I am looking forward to hearing from you soon!

  1. All of the transactions that make up the Spend data are debit or credit, and them being debit or credit does not mean they are classified under “No intermediary”. (E.g., you can use your credit card to pay with Square).
  2. Unfortunately we don’t yet have the number of transactions by type at each poi each month. It is technically possible but it’s not on our roadmap right now. Can you let me know how you would use that column and what insights it would unlock for you?

Hi Jeff,

Thank you for your answer! That’s very helpful! For some reason, I missed your reply before. Sorry for replying late! Can I ask some follow-up questions, please?

  1. To be clear, if we try to understand the consist of the number of transactions by type in terms of transaction intermediary in the summary panel data, then, for example, the number of transactions by bank(credit) should be equal to the number of transactions using debit(credit) card directly(i.e., belong to the No intermediary category) + number of transactions paid by debit(credit) card through any other transaction intermediaries(i.e., PayPal, Apple Pay, Door Dash, etc.)? Please correct me if I misunderstand something!

  2. Got it! I think I will talk with our research team and see whether we really need this information and will get back to you with the reasons/proposals/insights.

Thank you very much again for your help!

  1. I think I understand what you’re saying here. It sounds like you’re asking whether the sum of bank/debit and credit transactions is equal to the number of transactions as indicated by the transaction intermediary column. They should be close but not exactly, as some transactions can have multiple intermediaries.

For instance, if someone paid for DoorDash through PayPal using a credit card, this would increase the number of credit transactions in the summary file by 1, and also increase the number of PayPal AND DoorDash transactions by 1.

As stated previously, I don’t think there’s a straightforward mapping between debit/credit transactions and intermediaries.

Let me know if this answers your questions!