Interview with Mengzhu Ouyang of Finix Payments Inc

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Mengzhu Ouyang

Mengzhu Ouyang is an engineer-turned-designer who is motivated by a desire to connect people with technology. Over the past 5 years, Ouyang has contributed to a variety of products in sectors including personal banking, supply chain management, and payment processing.

1Please give us a brief bio of yourself and your design background.
I am Mengzhu Ouyang but I also go by Olivia. I’m an engineer-turned-designer and I’m driven by a passion to bridge the gaps between people and technology. In the past 5 years, I have worked on a diverse range of products across personal banking, supply chain management, and payment processing.
2What made you become/why did you choose to become a designer/artist?

From the outset of my career in design, curiosity has been my primary motivator. While electrical engineering laid the groundwork, human-centred design has brought me closer to understanding and enhancing the user experience. It offers a unique platform to delve into why specific interactions or visual patterns succeed or fail.

Collaborating with a diverse array of talented individuals, each with different backgrounds, is something I relish. Sharing and refining ideas with them enriches my work and perspective. For me, being a designer is not just a profession; it's the fulfillment of a dream, allowing me to blend my technical knowledge with creative problem-solving.

3Tell us more about your agency/company, job profile, and what you do.

I am presently employed at Finix, a prominent provider in the payments technology sector, known for empowering businesses to manage online and in-person payments seamlessly. Our diverse clientele ranges from startups to large publicly traded companies, including cutting-edge software platforms, dynamic marketplaces, payment facilitators, and independent merchants. At Finix, we specialise in streamlining payment processing, eradicating manual workflows, elevating customer experiences, and accelerating revenue growth for our clients.

As a product designer, I lead projects across different payment lifecycles to craft intuitive dashboard workflows so our customers’ payment operation teams can reduce time spent on manual tasks and garner deep insights from contextual payment data.

4What does “design” mean to you?

For me, design is synonymous with problem-solving. It involves a rigorous process of identifying issues, then addressing them through user research, brainstorming sessions, and validation. Crucially, design demands user testing to ensure that the most effective solution is found within the specific context.

I don’t view design as an exclusive, creative secret reserved for designers alone. Instead, I embrace and apply design thinking in all aspects of my life, both professionally and personally. I actively engage with others, sharing ideas and perspectives, in pursuit of the most effective solutions. This collaborative approach not only broadens my understanding but also enhances the overall quality of the outcomes.

5What’s your favorite kind of design and why?

I find myself deeply intrigued by exceptional service design experiences, like the immersive journey through an IKEA showroom, the captivating narrative of a museum exhibit, or the ingeniously crafted waiting lines at Disney parks. I take great pleasure in dissecting the meticulous thought process designers employ at each user interaction point.

These everyday encounters with outstanding design not only pique my curiosity but also serve as a constant source of inspiration, influencing my approach to design and creativity.

6To you, what makes a “good” design?

A "good" design is about effectively addressing the right problem, tailored to meet specific user needs, with the aim of enhancing both product functionality and customer experience. A prime example of this is the handicap push plate. Initially designed to aid wheelchair users in opening doors, since standard door handles fail to meet the accessibility needs of individuals with mobility challenges, these push plates have proven beneficial to a wider audience.

They assist not just those with permanent disabilities, but also people with temporary injuries, or even someone with their hands full, like carrying groceries. This illustrates how good design can transcend its initial purpose, offering broader, inclusive benefits.

7How did you come up with the idea for your award-winning design?

Traditionally, legacy payment providers have struggled to adapt to the rapid advancements in the payments industry. Their platforms, often outdated, weren't initially conceptualised to accommodate emerging commerce models like marketplaces, SaaS platforms, and multi-merchant systems.

Consequently, many of today's payment companies are constructed upon these older legacy payment processors. This reliance inherently imposes limitations, particularly in the quality and capability of the underlying infrastructure, constraining their ability to innovate and meet modern commerce demands effectively.

8What was your main source of inspiration for this design?
To enhance our designs, we undertook comprehensive user testing and incorporated insights from payment experts. Additionally, I delved into research on productivity tools, aiming to understand and implement strategies that assist users in maintaining focus, minimising distractions, and building confidence in their actions. This multi-faceted approach allowed us to create more user-centric and effective design solutions.
9Do you think your country and its cultural heritage has an impact on your design process?
I was born and raised in China where the financial system is completely different from the United States. I believe this has always put me in a humble mindset to absorb as much as possible when starting any project. This is also beneficial to cross-functional collaboration and my process with design teams.
10Congratulations! As the winner of the London Design Awards, what does it mean to you and your company and team to receive this award distinction?
We are honoured to receive this recognition from the London Design Awards. It is a huge accomplishment for both the product design team and Finix as a whole.
11Can you explain a bit about the winning work you entered into the 2023 London Design Awards, and why you chose to enter this project?

The redesign of our dashboard marked a significant milestone for Finix, substantially elevating our user experience. Finix now offers businesses instant access to comprehensive reports and concise, at-a-glance snapshots of payment data directly from the revamped dashboard, enhancing both functionality and user convenience.

Using intuitive design patterns, our dashboard prioritises tasks, provides transparent payment analytics, and allows businesses to manage their payment operations seamlessly. This means businesses have access to all the important details about how their business is doing as soon as they log on—from payouts and settlements to merchant deposits and more.

12How do you think winning this award will impact your future as a designer?
Winning the award is a huge recognition for me and shows how important it is to focus on designing for user experience. I feel encouraged to keep driving user value through my work and continue to work with cross-functional teams to use design as a tool to enhance customer experience.
13What are your top three (3) favourite things about our industry?
My top three favorite things about the design industry are deep empathy, constant innovation, and close collaboration with others. As a designer, I find nothing more rewarding than witnessing users experience an “aha” moment and solving problems with my designs.
14Where do you see the evolution of design industry going over the next 5-10 years?
I think artificial intelligence will have a significant impact on the product design landscape. Over the next 5-10 years, I believe AI-assisted tools will free up designers’ time, enabling them to spend more time problem-solving and less time handling project logistics.
15What advice do you have for aspiring designers who want to create award-winning designs?
Regardless of the industry, team size, or tools that you use, solving problems with the user in mind will always guide good design. The best advice I can give is to keep advocating for users throughout the entire process. A great solution should follow!
16What resources would you recommend to someone who wants to improve their skills in the design industry?
The design community is the most inviting community that I have ever seen. Whenever you have a question, don’t be afraid to ask! You could ask other designers, domain experts, or even ChatGPT. Also, there are tons of design courses and tutorials available online for any type of design skills.
17Tell us something you have never told anyone else.
I have thalassophobia.
18Who has inspired you in your life and why?
I am super grateful to be constantly inspired by the people I love. Growing up by watching tons of documentaries with my dad, I formed the habit of asking a lot of questions and it has helped me to always stay curious. During my design career, I ‘ve also been inspired by diverse design mindsets and have learned from managers, peers, and mentors.
19What is your key to success? Any parting words of wisdom?
Always focus on the present. When doing the actual work, I don’t think ahead about the outcomes because I know I will always learn regardless. Failure is not scary. Not learning from failure is scary.
20Do you have anything else you would like to add to the interview?
Thanks IAA for providing this great platform for the Finix design team to showcase our customer-first mindset!

Winning Entry

Finix Dashboard - Payment Operation Management Platform | 2023

Finix Payments Dashboard Payment Operation Management Platform | Finix Payments Inc and Mengzhu Ouyang

Mengzhu Ouyang

Mengzhu Ouyang is an engineer-turned-designer who is motivated by a desire to connect people with technology. Over the past 5 years, Ouyang has contributed to a variety of products in sectors including personal banking, supply chain management, and payment processing.

Read more about this interview with Danilo Villanueva of Makina & Co, the Platinum Winner of the 2023 London Design Awards.