How we make product decisions at Luno: The inside scoop with Exchange PO, Michael Kourtis

If you took a trip into our DMs, they’d look a little like this…

The Luno platform is built for you. That’s why your feedback and suggestions are so important to us. But while we’d love to build and implement every suggestion you send, there’s a lot more to adding new functions than meets the eye.

Our product owners work tirelessly to make sure Luno has all the features you need on your crypto journey. Michael Kourtis joined in January as the product owner for the Luno Exchange. He’s driven a complete overhaul of the platform, adding a ton of new features that enable you to take your crypto trading to the next level. And he’s not done yet.

When he’s not sipping on an espresso, or reviewing endless charts for his next trade idea, Michael’s passionate about upgrading the world to a better financial system. How? By trying to build the world’s best high-performance exchange.

We sat down with him to understand what motivates him, how new features are built, and what’s coming up in the future.

Meet Michael

Team Luno: What excites you most about crypto and about being a Product Owner in the industry?

Michael Kourtis: The establishment of a new financial system and the separation of money and state is incredibly exciting. As we wake up to the fact central banks are printing billions and trillions out of thin air, we know it’s not sustainable. During the Cypriot financial crisis in 2012, I saw first hand the vulnerability in the current financial system which saw the withdrawal from citizens’ accounts for a bailout. Imagine working hard your entire life to build a fortune and it to be taken overnight. We need to evolve. Cryptocurrencies, for me, provide individuals with a new option – one to be their own bank so that nobody can take what is yours.

Being a Product Owner allows me to lead a team dedicated to coming up with innovative solutions to address our customers’ needs and pain points, and, in turn, deliver a better product. We’ve seen the rise of challenger banks and services disrupting the status quo – Monzo, Revolut, Uber – and they all have something in common: customer experience is at the heart of what they do.

I spent several years working on forex trading platforms for tier one banks in the UK and being able to apply that trading and market knowledge to the crypto space has allowed me to see things from both sides of the spectrum.

TL: What does it take for a new feature to be added to Luno’s Exchange?

MK: As a Product Owner, I’m ultimately responsible for assessing the “what” and the “why” behind adding a new feature and overseeing the process alongside other stakeholders. This involves talking to customers and getting their feedback, looking at the direction of the market, and assessing customer pain points and whether or not adding a feature could solve them. We look at a lot of data and perform behavioural analysis before we make any decisions.

Together with designers and software engineers, we come up with the most effective way to implement new features. This entails assessing our customer journeys and user experience, the best technical solution to a problem, and the overall aesthetic. There are so many aspects to consider when adding functions – above all though, we make sure whatever we do is built to last.

In order to truly understand what goes into building new features, it’s helpful to take note of the various elements involved. Typically, features have a frontend and backend element – the frontend is everything the customer interacts with from an interface perspective, i.e. your screen and buttons, and the backend is the overall infrastructure that powers the feature, i.e. placing and executing an order. Our frontend and backend engineers work closely alongside other team members, like our product designers, to ensure everything functions as it should.

At the end of the day, we all work together to plan effectively and execute new features as quickly as possible. It’s paramount we deliver the maximum value to our customers at the right time.

TL: What’s the most exciting feature you’ve rolled out so far in 2020?

MK: In the past six months, we took our Exchange from retro to something professional and intuitive. It’s a huge achievement to be recognised in the top twenty exchanges among crypto exchanging rankings, like CoinMarketCap and CryptoCompare.

It’s exciting to see our updated, sleek interface now matches our stature in the market.

We’ve also added stop-limit orders to our Exchange, which brings a degree of sophistication to our order suite. We’re no longer simply offering buy/sell, we’ve worked hard to ensure we remain competitive in the market and have recognised the needs of our traders, providing them with a platform that is high performant and works beautifully.

TL: What features can customers look forward to on the Exchange in the near future?

MK: We can’t reveal all of our secrets, but we’re planning to celebrate this bull market the right way by looking into how we can offer more altcoins and stablecoins as soon as possible. We’re giving serious thought on how best we can improve on our current trading offering – keep your eyes peeled for new updates!

What features would you like to see added? Let us know on Twitter.

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