Greater convenience to more people — The story of Edwin
As a back-end engineer and the leader of the Coupay team, Edwin has taken on numerous challenges and made remarkable achievements. This time, we have invited Edwin who has just celebrated his one year with us to learn about the story of him and his team, which is responsible for the development and operation of Coupay, Coupang Pay’s proprietary simple payment service.
Hello Edwin, can you introduce yourself?
Hello, I am Edwin. I am the leader of the Coupay development team under the Fintech Product Engineering group at Coupang Pay. It was my dream to become a developer ever since I was a child. Back then, I didn’t exactly understand what a developer’s job actually was. The typical portrayal of a hacker in movies – a scientist behind the screen solving problems that no one ever could understand, was my understanding of a developer. It was only after I got into a college where I majored in a related field that I really got to understand how joyful it is to implement features. After college, when I was just starting off my career, my initial goal was to explore many different areas and find one that works best for me. After years of experience, I realized I wanted to build a professional area of my own. By coincidence, I had a chance to build a payment system, which gave me the opportunity to gain first-hand experience in addressing customer inconvenience that led to a significance increase in user experience. This experience motivated me to build my career in this field and join the current team.
Of the millions of choices you had, why did you choose to join Coupang Pay?
There are two things that come to my mind among many things that came under consideration back then. The first reason is, Coupang Pay is a company where data-driven decision-making, based on tremendous amounts of customer data available, is a norm. As I said earlier, I found joy in providing convenience to customers with what I develop. I was eager to make the services and features available to as many people as possible, to a wider spectrum of users, and receive positive feedback for what I can offer. Coupang seemed like the right place to achieve this goal because the platform it offers, with customer experience at its heart, was already being patronized by a huge number of customers. I was amazed by how much the company has advanced in terms of decision-making based on data, and also got hyped up thinking that I would be able to see what customers are thinking of my work if I manage to deliver the services with the experience I had accumulated properly. Second, I really liked Coupang’s communication culture where leaders seemed approachable. In software development, there are invisible constraints that should be controlled to allow the development team to implement changes quickly and flexibly according to business needs, which constantly change. These so-called “technical debts” should be continuously followed and addressed to deliver the desired development outcomes on time as needed. While many in leadership positions place the need to address technical debts on the back burner, Coupang Pay seemed to have leaders who saw this need and were willing to address these invisible constraints, and that really reinforced my interest in working together with this company.
As the leader of the Coupay team, can you introduce your team and what they do?
Coupay is Coupang Pay’s simple payment service for domestic customers of Coupang. My team is responsible for developing and operating various technologies and features that drive this payment service. To be more specific, we develop and optimize back-end features to manage information needed for transactions, such as customer information and details of payment methods, while ensuring customer payments are easily yet safely captured. Basically, our work scope spans across various domains and features that our customers come across, from the moment they start the journey to use Coupay to the payment method registration stage, as well as stages where the payment authorization request is made and captured with card issuers and banks.
What are some of the experiences or qualifications a candidate must have to become a member of Coupay?
From a technical standpoint, I don’t think there is a key qualification or development experience that must be met to join our team. As long as you have continuously skilled up to build competencies and acquired appropriate experience, I believe you will sooner or later be able to adjust to our team. Instead, I want to emphasize that to be successful in this organization, you need to have the ability to understand issues, communication skills, and the right attitude. The experience of addressing a problem where circumstances don’t allow you to identify the cause of that problem and willingness to grow together with the team. This is because interruptions to the services our team offers can be critical, as it can directly lead to an unpleasant experience for customers given the nature of our service that it is accessed round the clock by numerous groups of people (i.e. customers and stakeholders). As a team, whose mission is to make sure the services are provided seamlessly at all times, we must be very careful when updating the features of our services. And this calls for effective and close communication with peers. You should be willing to share the knowledge you have with peers, put heads together to minimize the chance of unforeseen problems, and have the mindset that every aspect of the service should be created and shaped together with the team.
Is there anything you would like to brag about your team? :)
I always feel grateful and indebted to my team. As I said earlier, my team by nature needs to engage with many different groups of people (i.e. customers and stakeholders), and this naturally follows with many disruptions to the service that we are in charge of and update requests to which we need to respond to. I take great pride in that we are successfully handling them as one team. Some may wonder if this is something to be proud of, in the view that they are just doing their job. But I want to emphasize that it really is difficult to create a culture where everyone has an in-depth understanding of each other’s work as if it were of one’s own and thus capable of solving a problem in someone else’s work as effectively as when it is handled by the owner — this is much more difficult than having a team of 10 people with understanding only of the work they are assigned to. Indeed, the developers in my team are continuously communicating development directions and reviewing their work together, sharing knowledge and the inquiries/requests they receive. Such a well-functioning, collaborative culture was regarded as a far-fetched dream or unattainable ideal in the teams I had previously worked for. My team may not be perfect, but everyone is working really hard toward creating such an ideal development culture. My team doesn’t seem to feel it just yet, but Coupay’s development and collaborative work culture is their biggest strengths that makes them really shine.
Coupay team’s Meet-up
Now that you have been with Coupang Pay for 1 year, I wonder how you find Coupang Pay now compared to the impression you had when you first joined.
At first, everyone seemed really busy working independently on their own under a relatively “loose” system. I saw people from different groups come together to discuss many different topics, figure out who should be working on what, and then break up to do their job in their own way. The way things work around was completely different from a vertical organization where you are expected to report what you do to your manager and get approval. It’s been a year since I joined, and I still find that we are working horizontally. What is different from my initial impression is that in fact, it wasn’t that the company system was “loose,” but rather it was Coupang Pay’s culture to encourage employees to find what works best and constantly seek change by giving enough autonomy. I observed that the roles and responsibilities are well defined and divided in this organization. Everyone thinks about how each contributor could focus on their respective area the best and how they should be working together to create better results. One thing I found especially impressive in my first year is that decisions are made in this organization based on a slew of data that have been carefully collected. Of many companies out there, that make data-driven decisions, only a few would be doing as good of a job as Coupang Pay when it comes to organizing and curating data and sharing them with developers in real-time. Because I can find out the impact of the changes that I’ve made with my developments and how they are received by users, I am more motivated to speak up and share my opinions and ideas with others.
What is one thing that you would like to explore something new at Coupang Pay as a developer?
While my role is currently focused on managing, if I get a role where I would be focused more on development, I would like to try and do some refactoring work to bring the Coupay service most up to date and make it more systemized. It’s a process that involves inferring back what the owner of a certain feature had in mind when developing this feature including why they had implemented it in such way, studying current business goals and policies and then reclassifying and neatly organizing development works based on the findings. We often find things that require changes and improvement that we couldn’t see while developing as we run the features/programs after implementation. Even if the point of contact with customers or other stakeholders remains unchanged, improved internal systems and neatly organized codes can be very helpful as understanding and changing codes becomes much easier for peers, bringing up the overall quality of the service we offer. I would be really happy if I get a chance to try this and deliver results acknowledged and appreciated by my peers.
Please pick the next interviewee and tell us why you chose this person.
If Coupay is a team that works to give its best behind the scenes to enable the seamless provision of simple payment, Fintech Front-end is a team that spares no effort to implement features for the domains that directly interface with customers. It is a team of Front-end experts that places customer experience at the center of their development work and develops software and applications in reflection of the requirements of many back-end development teams. I hope to learn about this team through the lens of Theo, who is leading the team.