New Features
New Features

Reducing Bias in Our Dataset with New Card Types

Blue outlines of various types of cards, like gift cards, fuel cards, transit cards, against an aqua backdrop

Enigma is on a mission to build a complete picture of U.S. businesses and provide the most accurate data about their revenues. We’re excited to share that we have now integrated a panel of alternative cards into our data that will increase the accuracy of our revenue data for all Enigma customers.

Chart comparing the before/after of our card panel after Nov 2022 expansion, adding many alternate card types

Enigma builds revenue estimations based on actual transactions from a panel of cards. A variety of factors impact the accuracy of our revenue estimates:

  1. The size of the panel
  2. Any bias or skews in the panel make-up
  3. The precision of tagging transactions to a particular merchant

The new addition of alternative card types into our dataset will have a great impact on the first two factors: increasing our total panel size and reducing bias.

Increasing panel size

Prior to the incorporation of these new sources, Enigma’s card panel was already the largest in the U.S., covering over 70% of consumer general purpose credit cards and nearly 50% of debit cards. It’s now even larger.

We’ve grown the total number of active cards in the panel by 7%, from about 700 million to 750 million, with "active" meaning cards with at least one transaction in the past six months. The card spend in the panel has also grown by nearly 5%, from $11.7 trillion to $12.3 trillion.  

Green box featuring stat: 50 million - number of active new cards incorporated with latest expansion

As our economy continues to move away from cash — its usage dropped 15% in 2020 with no rebound in 2021, according to McKinsey — this latest expansion of our panel is another step on our continued journey to provide more visibility into business revenue.

Another priority is reducing the bias in our card panel.

Reducing bias in our card panel

Our original card panel comes from the largest credit and debit card issuers, laying a broad foundation for our dataset. But it also skews our data toward general purpose credit cards and debit cards, when payment methods like prepaid cards are becoming more common.

In a recent survey from Discover, 75% of respondents said they had used, bought or received at least one type of prepaid card over the past year.

Further, a panel tipped toward cards through traditional bank relationships brings a demographic skew.

About 19 percent of the U.S. population is unbanked or underbanked — they have no bank relationship or their needs require bank alternatives — and these rates were higher among adults with lower income or less education, and Black and Hispanic adults, according to the Federal Reserve’s Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2021 report.

This latest data enhancement introduces net-new card types to our dataset, like payroll and government cards and gift cards, bringing fuller coverage of transaction activity from unbanked and underbanked populations. And the introduction of flexible spending and health savings account (FSA/HSA) cards will start providing more insight into revenue trends at doctor and dental offices.

What this means for you

Revenue accuracy will continue to improve over the next few months as we onboard this new data into our panel:

  • Total lift: All businesses will see more accurate revenue estimates and trends
  • Healthcare boost: Businesses in the healthcare industry (dentists, doctors, pharmacists, vision stores) will see a strong boost in accuracy, due to the addition of FSA/HSA cards
  • More inclusive coverage: positive impact in revenue coverage for merchants that serve lower-income communities

As we add additional data into our panel, we continue to monitor and adjust our projection factors such that our revenue estimates become more accurate and don’t balloon.

This enhancement aligns with our goal to deliver continuously improving data, seamlessly. For existing customers, there’s no additional cost or action you need to take to begin benefiting from this improvement. Unless you’re on an isolated version, these changes will start showing up in the Enigma data you receive.

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