Fiserv enables payments for more than six million merchants worldwide and has a presence in almost every ZIP code in the U.S. The company is using this penetration to benefit small businesses, reporters and analysts alike with its new Small Business Index.
The Fiserv Small Business Index is an interactive tool designed to provide timely and seamless access to robust small business performance data. The index aggregates consumer spending activity across millions of U.S. small businesses, allowing users to dig into performance at a national, state and industry level. While there are chambers of commerce and government entities that provide updates on the state of small businesses, Mike Spriggs, Director of Consumer Spending Insights at Fiserv noted in a briefing that there are two key issues: the data typically has a considerable lag, often launching two weeks to a quarter after the period being measured; and these benchmarks typically lack actual, comprehensive data, using surveys or aggregate card data.
“None of these [resources] get to the verbatim, full picture,” Spriggs said. “We realized we could close those gaps and provide visibility into small business growth.” Fiserv uses true POS activity, aggregating sales from nearly two million small businesses per month. The results include transactions paid using credit cards, debit cards, cash and checks that go through the POS systems.
Providing a Fast, Comprehensive View of Small Business Results
The index provides a “simple numeric score” that measures small business sales, calculated at the base period of 2019, before COVID-19. Additionally, Fiserv follows the same guidelines as the U.S. Small Business Administration to define and identify small businesses, aggregates the data and then accounts for small business openings and closures. This data is then extrapolated and “balanced” based on the U.S. Census to provide “incredibly rich data” across 16 sectors and 34 sub-sectors defined by the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) with “virtually no latency.” Performance data for the previous month will be available within a few days’ time, Spriggs reported.
“This idea of data being the new oil has motivated us to get to this place,” Spriggs added. “With the right data, you can know more; and then when you know more, you can transform that into power. We want to empower with data that’s comprehensive and relevant. And we want to get it to whoever needs it faster than anyone else can.”
Policymakers, economists, investors, journalists, analysts and consultants will undoubtedly benefit from the Index. However, Spriggs noted that small business owners were top of mind in the development of this experience too. As small business owners seek new opportunities for growth and expansion, they can look at the Index to make more informed, data-driven decisions.