MerCafé vol.2─Merpay’s CPO Talks Shop with New Grads

The café space at Mercari’s Tokyo office is a place where members can relax. You can often find people sitting comfortably and chatting, wrapped in the delicious aroma of coffee. The MerCafé series is all about bringing that environment of casual, relaxed conversation to our readers.

In this edition, we want to show you a conversation between Mayumi Narisawa(@narico), Vice President and CPO of Merpay, and Takuya Wada(@phi) and Namiko Toriyama(@torichan), engineers who joined Merpay and Mercari (respectively) as new grads in 2023. Listening to the exchange of questions and opinions from the fresh perspective of new graduates—ranging from how to turn “work mode” on and off and how to include others in your own work, to the brimming passion that each has for the product and their drive to make Mercari even better—was impressive to say the least. We hope you will enjoy this conversation as much as we did, with everyone agreeing at the end that they could easily talk for a few more hours!

Featured in this article

  • Mayumi Narisawa

    After graduating from music college, Mayumi found herself moving into the IT field through a music education business she was involved in. She worked on the service design and UI/UX design of numerous mobile service providers at DeNA Co., Ltd., and then moved to Kyash Inc., where she was in charge of experience design for its physical card. She joined Merpay in 2018 as a Product Designer and took on the role of UX Lead, optimizing the Merpay screen whenever a new feature was introduced. She has helped lead the company from the time of its inception to its current phase of growth. After spending some time as Head of Design, Mayumi was appointed as CPO of Merpay in January 2022.

  • Takuya Wada

    In 2021, Takuya was an intern for Build@Mercari, an online training and internship program organized by Mercari Group. After graduating from the Graduate School of Engineering at Hokkaido University, he joined Merpay as a new graduate in 2023. Takuya is currently a member of the Credit Modeling Team.

  • Namiko Toriyama

    In 2020, Namiko was part of the inaugural class of the Build@Mercari program. After graduating from Ochanomizu University’s Graduate School of Information Science and Technology, she joined Mercari in 2023 as a new graduate. She is currently working as a backend engineer on the Buyer Engagement Team.

Rapid-fire questions from curious new-grad employees

All: Hello! Nice to see everyone, looking forward to a good conversation!

@narico: So, my understanding is that you two came prepared with a ton of questions for me—I’ll answer any question to the best of my ability, so feel free to just keep them coming! (laughs)

Both new grads had lots of questions for @narico

@torichan: Okay! Let me start with a simple question: how do you switch your “work mode” on and off? I just started at Mercari in April this year, and I am already experiencing moments when I find it hard to rest my mind because I’m thinking about work even outside of work hours…

@narico: Ah yes, I know that feeling very well. When I was in my 20s, I used to think about work all day, every day. Back then, it was normal to be both a designer and a coder, so I was studying even on weekends—my sole intention was catching up with and surpassing others.

After I got married, my work-oriented lifestyle honestly didn’t change much. My husband is a designer as well, and we love to discuss various services even outside of work—just hanging out and talking about the future of our companies’ services.

But that lifestyle changed in 2020 when the pandemic hit and everyone had to practice social distancing. I started working from home, which allowed me to have more free time to spend with my family, and that made me feel like my life was in order.

We’ve also developed a routine for how we spend our time as a couple. My husband is in charge of the cooking, and he always makes healthy food for me. I’m a little shy to brag about my husband like this, but the meals he makes for me are so tasty! When I work from home, around 7:30 at night, I can hear sounds and smells of my husband cooking, and it’s kind of like an alarm clock to let me know it’s almost time for me to turn work mode off. Eventually, my husband will let me know dinner is ready, and then we’ll go out for a little walk together before we sit down and eat. As we walk together, we talk about all the things that happened in our days—the good and the bad.

Mayumi Narisawa(@narico)

@torichan & @phi: That sounds amazing!

@narico: It’s kind of like he’s my mentor. (laughs) He patiently listens to my rambling and responds with thoughtful questions that help me organize my own thoughts, like asking about the background or reason behind something that went wrong and then prompting me to think about what I should have done or if it was even possible for me to solve that problem at that time. Then, after we get home, we share a nice relaxing meal together. I think this really helps me turn work mode off.

@torichan: Your time together as a couple sounds amazing! Do you do anything to disconnect from work on the weekends?

@narico: Well, this isn’t very unique, but I try to spend time not looking at work-related notifications or documents. I find that by taking time away from work to be alone with myself, I come up with lots of ideas that I couldn’t have when I was staring at a screen, and my thoughts become more organized.

@phi: I sometimes have the image of a screen stuck in my head, even when I don’t have my computer open. (laughs) I also think about things that didn’t go well at work or times when I didn’t have a good opinion to offer in a meeting, and then I just beat myself up over it.

@narico: I think everyone experiences those kinds of things! Of course some things just improve naturally over time, but in my case, I had a hard time switching completely on or off, so I had to be more conscious of thinking about those kinds of things and making sure I had gotten over it to the point that I was thinking positively again.

@torichan: Thank you so much, this has all been really valuable information! Did you have any questions for @narico, @phi?

@phi: I would love to hear about how you get those around you involved in your work. I have a background in engineering, and for the first three years of being assigned to a research laboratory, I spent basically all of my time quietly dedicating myself to my particular field of study. I still find it hard to get away from that mindset. When a project or task is assigned to me, I tend to feel that I should be working on it by myself, but as one of Mercari’s values is “All for One,” I want to get better at involving and including others in my work.
Takuya Wada(@phi)

@narico: I totally understand it can be very difficult to get other people involved. But I think before we get ahead of ourselves we should remember the original meaning of the All for One value—do what it takes to succeed. Involving others is just one way to succeed, so I think we should be careful of equating that with the All for One value. Speaking for myself, if I have already analyzed all of the best possible ways of doing something and determined that I can do it better on my own, I think that’s what I should do.

That said, taking on a challenge with two people rather than one—or three people rather than two—can broaden your perspective and improve the quality of your output. You can’t really understand how amazing it feels to succeed together with others unless you experience it for yourself, so I think you should just Go Bold and give it a try!

@phi: I see! Thank you, that answered my question perfectly.

Fresh perspective and curiosity are the keys to product growth

@phi: I would love to take this opportunity to talk a bit about our products! As a Merpay engineer, I am happy when I see people using Merpay, but I do feel frustrated when I see them using other payment services.

@narico: Yeah, that feeling is very familiar to me. It’s definitely not a good feeling when users don’t choose us. However, now that we have entered the credit business with Mercard and shown that we can leverage how easy it is for users to apply for a Mercard, I feel more positive than ever.

@torichan: That’s true, it is super easy—@phi and I tried applying for Mercard together and we were really surprised at how easy it actually was it only took us about a minute. Plus, Mercard has a really cute design!

By the way, one of my friends told me that she started using Merpay because she was already a user of Mercari. Even though she wasn’t familiar with QR code payment, she felt that it was very easy for her to just give Merpay a try anyway because she was already a Mercari user and because Merpay is integrated with Mercari. I’d like to try to reach out to this layer more in the future.

Namiko Toriyama(@torichan)

@narico: That’s so good to hear! Mercari has a lot of features, and I think that having multiple services integrated into the one app you always use is very compatible with the trends we have observed in Gen Z users like yourselves.

In terms of credit card features that users prefer, the Survey on Gen Z’s Behavioral Characteristics and Values and Credit Card Use released in April of this year revealed that 72.0% of Gen Z respondents said that they want credit cards that “can be used and managed through frequently used apps.” This indicates that the ability to track usage in real time through a familiar app can be a major plus, especially for Gen Z users.

@phi: To be honest, I used to legitimately wonder, “Why don’t they just divide Mercari and Merpay into two separate apps?” But then as I experimented with the various features of both Mercari and Merpay, I began to understand that integrating them allows for much easier use.

@torichan: Sometimes I like to use other companies’ apps as a sort of self-study. I try to analyze the features that I find convenient as well as the ones I find difficult to use from a user’s perspective.

@narico: I like that! I hope you keep that fresh perspective and curiosity with you for the rest of your life!

One time, we held this “Payment Tournament” event with the goal of improving the user experience for electronic payments—I ended up making something like 300 payments in two weeks. I learned a lot of things in those two weeks, like the fact that users were having trouble launching the app because facial recognition didn’t work with masks, and that people who were unfamiliar with the app and getting anxious because they were holding up lines in convenience stores and other places where they were trying to make payments. Using one feature over and over again is a good way to discover what our users are truly experiencing—including the inconvenient stuff. I want us to be able to use what we learn from those experiences and reflect that in the product.

Collaborating beyond teams and roles to elevate the user experience

@torichan: Sorry to keep bringing up products, but I’m just having too much fun talking about them. (laughs) I have a Mercari Post near my house, and after actually using it for the first time, I realized just how much easier it makes listing items.

@phi: I totally get that! But let’s not forget that while Mercari Post brings the advantage of contactless shipping, it also requires the seller to do the whole process of getting a QR code, attaching the invoice, and sending the package all by themselves. So, there is likely a certain portion of users who feel that shipping with Mercari Post is a significant hurdle compared to normal shipping at a convenience store.

@narico: This is especially true for users trying out a new feature for the first time. For example in this case, because if they’ve never done it before, they may not understand the procedure, so they might expect to have to ask the staff lots of questions, which can be embarrassing, and no one wants to be embarrassed at a store in front of other people.

I think that item listing and payments are actually pretty similar. For listing on Mercari and payment through Merpay, the UX before opening the app cannot be captured by data. That’s why it’s so important to think about user psychology—something that is not so easy to visualize with data—and to try to improve the user experience by actually using the products as if we were the users and reflecting what we learn back into the product. I think it’s crucial that we interact with each other across the organization, without getting trapped into the silos of “Mercari” and “Merpay.”

@phi: Thank you so much for answering all of our questions! I had so much fun talking about products, especially towards the end. (laughs) After this conversation, I really want to take everything that I’ve learned and use it to shape my ideas further—I am very excited about the future!

@torichan: We were so eager and enthusiastic we completely ran out of time! If there is another chance in the future, I would definitely like to talk like this again, and I think many of the other new graduate members would as well.

@narico: I really enjoyed hearing fresh input! And I definitely agree with you two—we could have talked about products for easily a few more hours. (laughs) Let’s plan on having another conversation like this in the future!

@narico was impressed by the way the two new grads were excited to talk about the product for the entire discussion

Drink of the Day: The Barista’s Corner

At Mercari’s café space, professional baristas make you the drink of your choice! This time, @narico chose the cold-brew coffee, and @phi and @torichan chose the iced chai tea latte. To find out more about these delicious drinks, we spoke with Iga-chan, one of the baristas working at café space.

Cold-brew Coffee

The smooth, refreshing, and sweet taste of this cold-brew is especially popular during the hot summer season!
The cold-brew at MerCafé goes down easy, I definitely recommend it.

Iced Chai Tea Latte

This iced chai is made with original spices and is a repeat order for many members.
It is characterized by the tanginess of the spices contrasting with a moderate degree of sweetness.
If you try it once, be prepared to want to order it again and again!

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