The Key to Successful Products by Toss POs
We asked 8 POs in the Toss Community.
The Toss Team is an agile organization. Teams are not organized by function (designers with designers, engineers with engineers). Rather, teams are made up of people with different roles: planners, designers, developers, and data experts. As the team consists of members with different roles, a person who can lead the product in order to reach the goal is needed. At Toss, we call those people POs (Product Owner) and TPOs (Technical Product Owner).
The Toss Team shares with POs the 7 key skill sets of a PO – the essential capabilities that POs need to have. Of course, all skill sets are important, but we wondered which were the most important to each of them in terms of creating a successful product. So, we asked 8 POs across the Toss Community.
“What is the most important skill set to you?And when was the time that you exemplified that skill set?”
1. Grit / Obsession
“Do you know little about your users? Then become one of them. The best way is to actually experience the life of the users.” – Toss PO Jiyoung Ahn
Our Silo creates services for business owners – the ‘Bookkeeping’ service, for instance. We launched Toss’ very first service dedicated to business owners. Because I’ve never been a business owner before, the approval, purchasing, tax invoice, and many other things were very unfamiliar to me. I was concerned whether I could create a good product.
To create a good product, I had to learn all about this area from the basics. And I thought that the best way was to actually experience it. So, I did everything a business owner does by becoming a real owner of a business. I applied for a business registration certificate, bought myself a POS, and issued a tax invoice with a customer, and actually sold my products at a reasonable price to my colleagues – of course with permission from the company. (laugh)
For the first time in my life, I got my payment as a vendor, and once I got my tax invoice issued, I could really understand the life of a business owner. Although, of course, my case is nowhere near people who do this for a living.
As I experienced the process of becoming a business owner, it was easier to understand them, plus I got a lot of ideas for the product. I could decide how to organize the main screen so that it’s easy for users to understand, and decide on the priorities of information that users want to know about most. We were able to add more useful features for our users, along with our revenue history sync feature.
The service gathered 200,000 business owners in just 6 months. Now, our goal is to create a service that makes people say, “Doing business is impossible without Toss.”
“In the process of creating a product, we are met with so many decision making moments. In order to make the right decision in the most urgent and unpredictable situations, we need to be fully engaged.” – Toss Securities PO Changgeun Kim
I’d like to talk about the Toss Securities ‘Free Stock Giveaway’ promotional event that users loved. While I always thought we should organize an event sometime, the growth of the Securities service became an important company-wide agenda starting in March. We needed to execute a growth strategy a lot earlier than expected. We had little time, and huge pressure. At first, we quickly tried lots of things with limited resources, but it didn’t turn out good. Time was ticking… and we had to make a decision.
We layed out all possible ideas, thought about them, and we were drawn to the ‘Free Stock Giveaway’ idea. It seemed promising, seemed like we should give it a try, and we were confident that we could execute it well. We put in all our effort for 1-2 weeks, and the response was amazing. In just 3 days, we reached 1.52 million new accounts.
The entire process was a constant cycle of thinking hard and making decisions. What ideas to choose, how to establish a growth strategy, how we’re going to set up the product, which stocks to give away, and etc. We also had to pick out good stocks, because we can’t just give out random ones. In order to maximize viral marketing effect, we exposed the name and logo of famous companies on the screen when users receive a stock. It would make users want to show it off to other people. To make sharing easy, we worked with the Social Silo to utilize the chat room feature, and added a ‘send gift’ button. We constantly improved our product during that short promotional period.
After our first try was successful, we proceeded to the second. The first day wasn’t impressive. We figured it was because of the lack of external buzz compared to our first try. So we needed to make another decision. Two days later, we changed the scheme to give out 1 share of stocks to every user, and then changed it so that they get 2 shares. Then, we changed it so that additional stocks are given out when users invite a friend. We went through a total of 3 iterations in 2 weeks. As a result, we reached an additional 1.3 million new accounts. Our silo focused solely on making the event successful, and all moments of decision making were very intense.
“When we agree to create services for the user and the world, we quickly create results. At Toss, people who want to solve inconveniences come together and work hard every day to reach our goal.” – Toss TPO Jaeho Choi
I am in charge of the account/card sync and viewing service, and the upcoming My Data project. Our team, which is in charge of the viewing service, has to constantly respond to so many things, because we need to be aware of the situations of dozens of banks and credit card companies. We are directly affected by any changes that occur. To prevent any service errors, we need to respond quickly to changes in financial companies.
Last year, we worked extremely hard in order to reduce the scraping error rate and accelerate loading. The error rate was reduced from 10~20% to 1%, and the loading time was reduced by 50%. Because we have so many users, an issue affecting 0.1% of the total users means a lot of users are facing issues. We thought to ourselves – “No compromises” and set our goal of reaching an error rate of 1%.
We also launched an impactful product within a very short period of time. The Disaster Relief Fund and Find Your Hidden Card Points services were created in just 2 days. This wouldn’t have been possible in other organizations. They need to set up a plan, design the product, get approval, assign developers… But Toss Team members share good ideas and services in our channels, and people willing to help come together to make it happen.
At Toss, when people agree to create services for the user and the world, we start immediately and produce results – it’s such an exciting organization.
2. Analytic Mindset
“There are indicators in the bank sector that must be considered, as well as the balance in loans. We need to strategically set priorities while complying with margin structure and regulatory factors.” – Toss Bank PO Sunghee Choi
I am in charge of creating loan products at the Toss Bank Loan Squad. When we launch the bank, we will start with credit loans – and this will be completely different from the conventional concept of credit loans. Normally, users have to check and satisfy all the complicated requirements in order to get the best benefits. Now, Toss Bank will present the user with the best loan products in the most intuitive way – to the point that the user does not have to compare different products.
In order to do so, we need to provide the user with products with the optimal approval rates, interest rates, and limits. During this process, we need to think about the pain points in the existing loan market, define the problems to be solved, and determine the requirements through various hypotheses. We try to take down product barriers, redefine them, and check the IT requirements needed to create the product. We also have to establish policies in a way that we can deliver value to users in areas such as interest rates, limits, and approval rate.
It was my first time working on a bank service, but I noticed that I shouldn’t be only focusing on the laon area. There are indicators that must be considered, along with the balance in loans, and we need to set business goals while complying to regulations such as the margin structure. We strategically set priorities, and set the details for products such as interest rates and limits.
If we do not have a process of analyzing indicators and predicting based on data, it becomes very difficult to make the right decisions. It could pose a risk to the bank, too.
“The Securities home tab and details tab is an area of art and data. It should offer the necessary information to the customer, but not flood the customer with information.” – Toss Securities PO Dongmin Kim
Our Silo is dedicated to the entire process until the customer decides to purchase stocks. We create two things – the home tab and the details tab. Users spend the most time on these two screens. They tap on this and that, and look around. In the details tab, they take a look at graphs, look up investment information and news articles of companies before they make a purchase. Our priority is to provide various useful information so that investors can make the right investment decisions.
The composition of information in the home tab and details tab is an area of art and data. We shouldn’t flood the customer with information, but provide the necessary information when purchasing stocks. With the accumulated data, we set hypotheses, experiment, verify or and exclude them one by one.
Our Data Team has worked so hard to create an environment for us to view data we need at any time. Data is essential in the process of establishing and verifying hypotheses, so we are always grateful for their effort as we lay the foundation for our product.
3. Experience and Handling Complexity
“Before we made huge changes to the complicated payment screen, we conducted small experiments to check the changes. We actually saw meaningful results, and were able to verify our hypothesis in a short period of time.” – Toss Payments TPO Myunghoon Kim
I used to be an iOS Developer, but became a PO with the launch of Toss Payments. Among the various products I was in charge of at Toss Payments, and I would like to talk about the Toss Pay Silo.
Back then, I was involved in a project to improve the existing payment screen. It was such an old screen that it would take a lot of development resources in completely changing it to fit the style of Toss. It could even affect our vendors. However, the problem had to be solved, so we made the complicated issue simple.
First, we checked if there was any meaningful change when there was a ‘Toss’ payment option. We added the Toss payment method in the existing payment screen, and checked the change in transaction volume – and we actually saw meaningful results. I stopped the experiment there because I proved that we needed huge improvements, and the next PO is now executing the changes based on this evidence.
If we simply chose to make huge improvements in the first place, we might have wasted time, not able to check those meaningful results. With the goal of changing complicated problems into simpler ones, our ability and strategy to quickly understand and simplify problems enabled us to produce effective results.
“The payments industry is extremely complex, and I worked on making the most complicated aspect of payments, jargon, simpler. How did customers respond? Definitely positive.” – Toss Payments PO Seongah Kim
The Toss Payments Dashboard is also known as the New Merchant Manager. Vendors can use the app to check their cash flow and settlement history daily, as well as their revenue, their settlement cycle, and contract terms. It’s an online ledger service for online businesses.
Because we acquired the LG U+ mobile payment business unit, we also operate the old version of the Merchant Manager. Our goal is to transfer all customers to the New Merchant Manager within this year, so we’re adding features one by one to our dashboard that provides great UX as always. Our long term goal is to evolve into a B2B platform.
The payments industry is so complicated that I thought I should have the same level of knowledge as our team members in charge of operations. I tried to dive deep into the technical/operational area consisting of settlement, deadlines, subscriptions, payments, and the payment method area of virtual accounts, account transfer, gift certificates, mobile payments, and many more. I experienced CS at our vendors, and conducted interviews to figure out the pain points in the business area or when using the old Merchant Manager, regardless of the size of business.
As a result, we were able to improve the jargon related to settlement. I have never had experience in this area, so it was difficult to decide on how far we could go with the changes, but I was determined to revise the overall complicated jargon, so that even people who don’t know PG well and have never done settlement before could understand immediately.
A case in point is the words related to ‘settlement amount,’ which was made clear. The amount that is to be given to the client company was called ‘amount to be paid,’ in the perspective of the PG (Payment Gateway). We changed this to ‘amount to be transferred to your account.’ Other words were made simpler, reflecting feedback that some financial jargon was too difficult to understand. Once we changed the words, it became easier for users to understand the entire flow of settlement and transfer. The response was much more positive, too.
4. People Management
“This is an organization in which cooperation is key. We need to set a clear vision that everyone agrees on, and naturally form a consensus so that we can succeed together.” – Toss Payments TPO Myunghoon Kim
At Toss, a silo is created just like a new business. Normally there’s a founder that starts the business, and then people with different roles come together. We have the same process. When a PO plans a business and product, other team members gather and join the team.
Because the PO acts like a founder of a business, the PO should be good at leading the team. It is important for the PO to create a clear vision that team members agree on, and naturally form a consensus, rather than giving orders, so that the entire team goes in the same direction.
The Toss Team is an organization dedicated to completing lots of tasks fast, but sometimes it’s done in an unorganized way, because we’re focused on what’s in front of us. However, I think that having a ‘long-term perspective’ is most important in these situations. When we’re hasty, we tend to fail a lot, and lots of failure quickly leads to exhaustion.
I think that constantly reminding team members about the long-term vision while solving the immediate problems is essential. It is also important to motivate team members by reminding them that many small failures are part of verifying a hypothesis, so they can continue to take on challenges even after a failure.
5. Business Development
“It’s an important skill set when it comes to launching a bank.” – Toss Bank PO Sunghee Choi
At Toss, I was in charge of the Bank Service Silo, which helped users easily apply for and use products offered by banks. We created services that presented users with various financial products, such as checking/savings accounts, loans, etc.
The most memorable service for me is the ‘Loan Recommendation’ service. This was the first service in Korea that would compare loan products from different banks, and conduct the review and comparison at once. This service was not possible due to existing regulations. However, we applied for the regulatory sandbox implemented by the FSC (Financial Services Commission), prepared documents, and finally received approval, making the service possible.
This experience was extremely helpful when we were preparing to launch a bank. This is because we need to consider partner/affiliate/government relations and solve regulatory issues while we try to make innovation possible at Toss Bank. We continue to ask ourselves, “Why didn’t this product/service exist before?”, “Why did banks choose this method in the beginning?”, to find new business opportunities and create value that leads to innovation.
6. Growth Hacker Mindset & Mobile Gut Feeling
“Successful products like ‘Transfer Support Money’ and ‘Lucky Quiz’ started from a new perspective, and developed through a process of constant problem-solving. In this situation, I think my gut feeling on mobile products and problem solving skills played an important part.” – Toss PO Seungjin Jeong
I am in charge of Toss’ global expansion, starting with Vietnam. We are innovating finance in the global market. I first joined Toss as a Server Developer, worked as a Data Engineer and Data Analyst, and now I have become a PO. Previously, I was part of the Inflow Silo dedicated to growth. I would like to talk about the product back then.
Transfer Support Money was a product that created huge viral by taking a different approach on the friend invite feature. In just 2 days, 10 million phone numbers received the transfer support money, which amounts to 20% of the total population in Korea using the service. It was a huge driving force for Toss to reach 10 million in MAU (Monthly Active User), and allowed us to recognize that Toss could leverage on various social contexts.
When we first started the service, we used the commonly used friend invite scheme, where the user and invited friend would each receive 3,000 won when the invited friend becomes a new registered user. We changed this to ‘Transfer 3,000 won to Your Friend.’ We eliminated the reward for the invited user, and turned the ‘invite’ context into ‘money transfer’ context. Looking at our list of contacts, we realized that more people would rather send 3,000 won than receive 3,000 for signing up, and it would be more impactful for Toss to use the ‘money transfer’ context, instead of the ‘invite’ context, because it is a money transfer service. We tested it, and the ‘transfer 3,00 won to your friend’ scheme was a lot more effective. It could seem counterintuitive, because we eliminated rewards but saw better results. However, it’s important to discover things like this that seem questionable, but actually turn out to be successful. These are hard to find, but they have a great impact. To discover these things, the gut feeling when it comes to mobile products is important.
We also made another change – we allowed existing users to transfer money to anyone, not just new users. Users would now be able to send money to anyone on their contact list. When considering the figures, the speed of going viral is proportional to the funnel conversion rate and conversion time, and adding existing users brings a huge increase in both factors. Now, this is really counterintuitive, too, because it’s a referral program in which we spend money on existing users. However, we decided this could be a huge opportunity, so we designed a different reward scheme. As existing users could also get the rewards, the service went instantly viral. Setting aside fixed ideas, solely focusing on what people love, and moving towards the goal by solving problems are essential in reaching success.
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