Mastercard Research Project

A New Vision of Connected Commerce

TIMELINE 4 months, in collaboration with Sonya Badigian, Weikun Liang and Brian Nelson
ROLE Design Lead, Primary and Secondary Research
TOOLS Interviews, Surveys, Competitive Analysis



From January to August 2016, I worked in a team of four in collaboration with Mastercard's UX team to conduct research and create a service plan and prototype that envision a future of connected commerce that leverages Mastercard's access to consumer data. Our goal from January through April was to conduct research that would illuminate people’s underlying desires for their payments, within the broader context of the fast-changing financial world. We started to imagine a future where the gap between the physically and digital is bridged completely and to consider how this might create possibilities for Mastercard to fulfill these desires.




For the first four months of this project, we concentrated on researching payments, both in-store and online. We created a book and presentation of our findings.  To begin, we conducted an extensive competitive analysis and literature review. This gave us a good understanding of the payments industry, which has been experiencing upheaval in the last 5 years, with an explosion of FinTech startups unbundling the payment experience, digital wallets bringing physical payments to smartphones, and the relatively untapped possibilities of blockchain and peer-to-peer payments.


This research provided a firm foundation for our primary research, which included 22 in-depth interviews with consumers. We screened to get a wide range of participants aged 20 to 63, from seven cities across the country, with a variety of financial backgrounds. We asked them to tell us about memorable experiences paying to get a sense of both the pain points and moments of delight that define their relationship with commerce. We consolidated over 800 data points into an affinity diagram, which allowed us to find themes and commonalities across demographics and to foreground the core emotions that make up payment, whether it's a feeling of irrational ownership, betrayal or narcissism. 


We also interviewed 8 experts, including 5 stakeholders at Mastercard, who provided unique insight into the strengths they possess and challenges they face as a company. We also talked to the co-founder of peer-to-peer payment platform Venmo and the Developer Experience Lead at Uber, who talked to us about emerging themes in payments, like conversational commerce, and elaborated on why payments are such a crowded space right now. And we conducted over 10 hours of guerrilla research at merchants across Pittsburgh, observing the merchant-consumer relationship and how the process of checkout subtly shifts across different locations.



All of our research led us to our six main desires in payment: simplicity, transparency, flexibility, protection, connection and gratification. Please find an excerpt from our spring book below.

Click each page to zoom.




In mid-May we moved from our research phase to our design phase. Please see "Local by Mastercard" for our process and design throughout that phase. Thanks for looking!