People of OST: Swaminathan Jayaraman, Lead User Experience Designer
Swaminathan Jayaraman is a product designer with a focus on digital experiences and startups. He loves to travel and backpack since taking truck rides at the age of 10. He brings the same enthusiasm, edge, and interests to design and product management. Apart from travel and design, he is scouting for local junior tennis talent in India.
Tell us about yourself!
I’m from the city of the Chennai. It’s in the southern part of India and it is famous for its beaches and steamed rice cakes called idli. I studied interaction design in Mumbai. I then moved to Bournemouth University to pursue a master’s degree in motion digital effects. After I got my master’s, I moved to Pune to work as a UX designer at a startup called ConceptDrop. In 2015 I had an opportunity to work with Jason at Hem.com as a UX designer for furniture customization and visualization. We eventually started working on the Pepo application and dabbled around tokenization concepts. That is what led my journey to blockchain. My personal interests include personal finance and travel photography.
What excites you about blockchain?
Like many, I started reading about blockchain as I was speculative about bitcoin a couple years back. Initially, the money and hype were impossible to overlook, but then real-world use cases like tokenization and smart contracts took over. Decentralized finance and banking the unbanked are the areas that really excite me. The interesting part is that the billions of people who do not have access to bank accounts or credit services are mobile-native and can access crypto wallets, which is key.
An exciting and important experience for me was when I collateralized ETH to mint a hundred U.S. dollars in stable coins. It was equal to getting a hundred dollar loan from a local bank, except the entire process was seamless, involved zero paperwork, and was done in under five minutes with the power of blockchain smart contracts. The interest is astronomically lower than any bank rates that you get in India. Decentralized banking experiences and opportunities are really exciting for the masses, for both the banked and the unbanked.
What’s important in user experience design?
We have four designers in Pune: Prineel, Juhi, Akash, and myself. All of us are full-stack and we all lead in shaping products and team culture. One of the cornerstone processes that we follow starts with the customer experience and follows toward technology. This holds true even for something as technical as blockchain. I continuously leverage feedback from our partners and our passionate developer community to build the best possible tools for them. We stay curious about the technology. We observe our customers and the world around us. And we regularly share what we learn. This is essential in the UX design process. We use a UX learning-experience compound, a weekly meeting where we share ideas and processes as we review the tools and projects that we work on. Each team member has an opportunity to share something. This leads to storytelling, presenting work, and communicating how one arrived at a specific decision.
What products, developer tools, or protocols do you work on?
Applying design thinking to products, marketing, and customer needs is a broader part of my role. Some days you’re creating educational material with the business strategy team and other days you’re collaborating with the engineers to learn and design wallet key management. We also build and iterate on ideas with product managers. Staying fluid helps us be impactful in different areas such as KIT, VIEW, KYC, and wallet solutions. In terms of tools and protocols that I work on specifically, my top three priorities for this year are wallets, branded token exchanges, and OST VIEW, which is our native block scanner.
By late 2017, we launched our ICO. I was writing about how to create Ethereum wallets and how to buy OST. After writing five guides for five different wallets, it became clear that user on-boarding and the user experience would be the biggest challenge for new crypto users. Most interactions of blockchain for users happen via the wallet, and they are tough for Mappy users to set up. Mappy users are users of mainstream consumer apps, a persona that we follow here at OST. We are working on building secure and friendly wallets that can be integrated with our partner applications. Working on OST VIEW helped me understand the inner workings of blockchain. I occasionally also dabble with tokenization concepts for our partners and help them understand and visualize concepts that are on paper.
What do you look forward to this year?
A significant focus for us in 2019 is launching partner pilots. A lot of the scaling solutions, wallet experiences, and redemption experiences that we have built for our partners will be implemented and tested during this phase. I look forward to the feedback we will receive so we can improve and shape the future of our products. Apart from work, I also look forward to completing three Himalayan treks and also a lot of learning.
Thank you, Swaminathan!
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OST blockchain infrastructure empowers new economies for mainstream businesses and emerging DApps. OST leads development of the OpenST Protocol, a framework for tokenizing businesses. In September 2018 OST introduced the OpenST Mosaic Protocol for running meta-blockchains to scale Ethereum applications to billions of users. OST KIT is a full-stack suite of developer tools, APIs, and SDKs for managing blockchain economies. OST partners reach more than 300 million end-users. OST has offices in Berlin, New York, Hong Kong, and Pune. OST is backed by leading institutional equity investors including Tencent, Greycroft, Vectr Ventures, and 500 Startups.