Payments unicorn Stripe has launched a lightweight analytics tool called Sigma to allow customers to see data related to payments running through its Stripe infrastructure.

Instead of having to build your own data warehouse and analytics pipeline, Sigma does the heavy lifting, which it hopes will be an attractive proposition to its core market of startups that don't have armies of IT infrastructure people to rely on.

Stripe cofounders John and Patrick Collison
Stripe cofounders John and Patrick Collison

Sigma is an SQL query tool that allows users to query financial, payments and order data running through its Stripe infrastructure, such as geographic revenues, or seasonal peaks for certain products. Sigma also comes with some pre-built query templates to get users up and running quickly.

Although it is aimed at business users as well as developers they will have to know how to write an SQL query, which may be par for the course at a startup but not at your average small to medium-sized business.

Read next: Which is the right online payments solution for your startup? Stripe vs Braintree vs Worldpay vs Adyen

Stripe cofounder John Collison said: "Good data analytics should be like a good email system: fast to get, easy to use, and readily available to anyone in the company.

"With Sigma, we're giving businesses a zero-setup tool that can be customised for any number of purposes. Whether you work in finance, analytics, customer support or product management, Sigma gives you an easy way to make sense out of your data."

Collison says that users previously had two options with Stripe analytics: pre-built reports built on top of the Stripe APIs, or data pipelines and warehouses that require a lot of technical knowledge and upkeep.

"It's as if your only transportation options were public transit or flying a 787; what we're giving our users is a car to zip around town in," Collison said.

Stripe Sigma

Popular enterprise messaging platform Slack is an early adopter of Sigma. "[It has] helped accelerate our financial close process," said Kelly Hofmann, revenue accounting manager at Slack. "Instead of manually combining multiple data sources each month, we're now able to run a few simple queries in Sigma, enabling faster monthly reconciliation for credit card transactions."

Read next: How Stripe plans to combat online payments fraud using machine learning and analytics with Radar

Similarly,, a talent marketplace for people in hospitality, saw positive results during a trial of the tool.

Business analyst at Harri, Steven Moldavskiy, said: "With a query that took less than five minutes to write, our team has been able to identify unpaid invoices and recapture tens of thousands of dollars of revenue - eight percent of failed payments - in just two months."

Sigma is available for all Stripe customers as an additional service and is charged on a decreasing sliding scale depending on transaction volumes, starting at £10.15 a month for companies processing just 10 charges each month.

If that sounds complicated there is a tool to help customers estimate the cost of adopting Sigma here.