Visa payments

As the team leader to lead the visa payments project for Visa's first ever collaboration with a select group of design students, my group and I created a b to c platform to help merchants collaborate with Visa in providing the best exchange rate for international travelers to seamlessly pay and purchase goods, as well an online solution to paying for tax returns/items internationally.

Team: Shelly Li and Allan Zhou

Role: UX Designer and Team Leader

Process: understanding client brief, design research, concept generation, defining problem and opportunity, mapping out experience, key screens, video editing, presenting pitch

Time Taken: 4 weeks

my contributions

Project Manager- Led the team, facilitated multiple brainstorm sessions, created goals and deadlines, led presentation

UX Designer- generated initial storyboards, mapped out system, defined overall look and feel, sketches, wireframes, mockups, pitch deck

How might Visa help merchants accept online payments that are seamless and secure?

Through concept exploration, the client brief brought up an important issue that was crucial to any payment experience; transparency. We wanted to understand more about the relationship between a customer and a merchant and what made/broke that experience. But what were the specific issues surrounding this? That was what we needed to find out.


We did initial research here about payment applications and Visa's 4 party network model to understand how our solution which integrate Visa's current system to further create an environment for open payments. We then diverged from that to explore different opportunities/problems about how merchants dealt with payments. Did they have trouble with transparency, lack of security?


We also explored different regions and what the payments were like there. My peers, being from China, were describing the payment applications there and eventually we saw the potential for Visa to make an impact on how merchants would process payments globally. By taking this direction, we would also offer Visa more visibility into how to alleviate their problems and continue to be a diverse platform.

To have an understanding of how payments worked in China, we interviewed 7 Chinese nationals about their credit card use and the problems they might encounter while making payments with merchants. We also did research on other money transferring sites such as Alipay, Paypal, Vimeo, etc.


  • People seldom use a credit card for purchases but pay services such as Paypal and Alipay because of the relevance of cardless payments in China
  • People have trouble converting the money they use to purchase things from international merchants (un-reliable exchange rates)

The problem was exchange rates. You don’t know the time you are going to be charged until you need to settle the bill. 

A lot of people from China would consider themselves frequent travelers who would go aboard and buy lots of things. They would often encounter constantly fluctuating exchange rates and when they used their credit card to pay, there was alack of transparency in that the cost during purchase was different when they received their credit bill. This made it extremely annoying in that they ended up spending more than what they had planned on and felt cheated by the merchant.

How might Visa help big merchants improve their payment experience for international travelers while making online payments and purchases transparent?

We used existing trends such as tap nfc and location based technology to create a solution.  

International travelers can easily have a quick and easy way to purchase products with payment habits specific to their region and know the amount they are spending right away from the initial purchase to when they need to settle their credit card payment. Merchants will provide the best exchange rates for travelers in order to give them the best deals, as well as facilitate a smoother shopping experience that will enhance their revenue, brand perception and customer satisfaction.

scan and lock in exchange rate

Using tap nfc technology, users can see the price of a good and use Visa or a third party payment app to pay. Merchants don't have to worry about losing payments and instead gain more customers by providing the best exchange rate for international travelers during the moment of purchase. Users will have an easier time purchasing products and will know how much they will be paying upfront.


visa screens (best exchange rate)-01.png

best exchange rate guaranteed

Users are informed right away when their payment is complete as well as how the exchange rate will change before their bill date. On the bill date, whether the rate is lower or higher on the day the user needs to pay their credit card, Visa will decrease the final price of the purchase to the lowest exchange rate to ensure the user will get the best deal with the merchant, saving money.

visa screens (paying back item)-01.png

settling payment online and saving

During the bill date, users can see how much money they need to pay for a transaction and settle their expenses online. If the exchange rate is lower than the user’s initial purchase, the user will pay the least money. This makes it easier for users to pay their travel bills as well as saving time to pay bills at the bank.


merchant + visa benefit= customer acquisition = more customers = more transactions= $$$

customer benefit = seamless payments, currency exchange when shopping aboard

next steps

Our group and I presented to design team and VP of design. As a result, our project was runner up among four other projects due to execution, detail and taking the risk of mapping out a system of how our product works in relation to Visa's product ecosystem. After the presentation, Visa will take our idea and use it to address the main problem of helping merchants, whether it be with big businesses or businesses in different regions.


Presentation is key

Execution is very important. Even if all of your ideas are there, you need to present it in a way that your audience can take valuable meaning from. It is also important to be concise about talking/answering questions in order to keep your audience's attention.

When I was presenting, I did not engage my audience enough as I was replying too much at the screen reading my notes. One of the designers commented on this and said it was important to look at your audience in order to connect with them. Not focusing on who you are talking to is what can break a presentation.

Good storytelling is good communication

The VP of Design said something that was very important; storytelling. Storytelling is an essential skill to be successful as a designer. It is a very powerful way to communicate a concept. Most of the time having deliverables or a good concept isn't enough. It is about HOW you tell story that captivates the audience. There is more emphasis on impact over accuracy but having accurate design is very important as well. Depending on the situation, sometimes you don’t want to worry about the nitty gritty details, but instead IMPACT first.

For any project, we need to comfortable with content and BELIEVE in it.. Why is our problem important? Instead of simply telling them, we needed to show it to them as well. I learned how to be confident about the story we want to tell such as a business case on how our service worked.  Our group explained the concept but didn't tie it into a cohesive story. On the other hand, the team who won first place had a seamless story and how they solved the problem even though they didn't explain all the technicalities of how their product worked directly. It was embedded in their story.

creating a framework

Systems thinking is important. I learned more about other actors in a system besides the main user.. How will other people benefit and how would our story solve for multiple parties (i.e showing the problem statement in beginning and then CONNECT problem statement to solution towards the end). We had to be able to connect the values and benefits to the solution which would then tie into the problem statement and what we are trying to show for.

small details count

When you pitch idea to future employer, you have to address the brief as well as small things such as staying on top of their branding or the direction they are going towards. One group had the wrong Visa logo in which one of the designers did not like because it showed their lack of attention to detail and another group failed to address how their solution which help their main user, merchants. In the end, quality over quantity is crucial such as using only a few slides vs many slides that will tell a story.