Transaction Data

Transaction data supports Commercial Card program management and can go beyond that to aid other organization initiatives.  

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Where Does the Data Originate?

The data that pertains to a purchase and accompanies a card transaction originates from the supplier. It flows from the supplier through the various entities in the card channel (acquirer, processor, network, issuer). Card issuers commonly make the data available to end-user organizations via the online technology provided for end-users’ program management purposes and/or cardholders’ monthly statements.

Learn more about other aspects of card acceptance.

What Does the Data Include?

The type of data provided is categorized into levels, as shown below, which depends on the system/technology a supplier uses to process a card transaction. 

Additional resource: Visa webpage on enhanced data.

How Can Organizations Use the Data?

Level 1 data (Level I data) is the minimum amount of information a cardholder needs to reconcile a transaction (i.e., verify transaction legitimacy and accuracy). All suppliers pass Level 1 data. 

Level 2 data (Level II data), by separating out the tax amount, supports tax compliance. The customer-defined code is optional; it could be a PO number specified by the cardholder or other information. Many suppliers can provide Level 2 data, but they are not always aware of this.

*Level 3 data (Level III data), also referred to an enhanced data, is the most valuable since it includes itemized details about what the cardholder purchased, as indicated above. In addition to helping cardholders reconcile, end-user organizations might use Level 3 data various ways, such as to:

  • audit cardholders

  • aid accurate accounting

  • identify strategic sourcing opportunities

  • audit suppliers for contract pricing

Is Level 3 Data Always Accurate and Complete?

The quality of Level 3 data can vary by supplier. For example, it’s possible for a supplier to simply specify a generic, one-line description (e.g., “Invoice #1234”) instead of breaking out each product and/or service sold. See related blog post: Has Level III data evolved or dissolved?

Who is Responsible for Data Quality?

It is not the responsibility of Visa and Mastercard, as they do not have the ability to validate the data sent. They only edit to ensure a set number of data fields are passed. The merchant acquirer/processor, in partnership with the supplier, are responsible for the quality of the data. Diane Merrigan, Director of Enterprise Solutions, CardConnect®, observed, “Few processors understand the business-to-business (B2B) payments environment and all the details that go along with it. There is inexpensive technology out there that actually can set defaults in the background, so the transaction sends proper data.”

Which Suppliers Provide Level 3 Data?

Level 3 data requires more robust technology and, therefore, it is not as prevalent. It is most often provided by larger suppliers who sell office supplies, industrial supplies and computers/computer parts, as well as airlines, some hotels and car rental agencies. Your card issuer might be able to share information about which suppliers provide Level 3 data.   

Why Should Suppliers Provide Level 3 Data?

Suppliers who do not currently provide Level 3 data should consider doing so. Not only does it make customers happy (when the data is complete), it usually lowers the fee that suppliers pay in conjunction with card acceptance. They should contact their merchant acquiring partner about the possibilities. 

See also information about other data relevant to card program management.