Buying stuff with mobile wallets: an experience

Malinthe Samarakoon
4 min readMay 16, 2018


If you’ve read my previous posts, you’d probably know that I have an unusual interest in mobile wallets and cashless payments. I suppose this stems from my anxiety and the reluctance to interact with people. Or at least, keep the interactions at a minimum.

The anxiety also prevents me from actually asking people if they support various services. It’s complicated. This is the reason why I never tried to use any services like Frimi in the wild. Well, that’s not entirely true. I tried and they didn’t go well.

When I heard that Frimi was starting to support all Keells branches, I was interested. It sounded like it was a proper integration and I could finally try it out. I did wait until people tried it out and reported back on Twitter and since the experience seemed positive, I decided to head out on a Sunday to buy some groceries for the house (I was out of butter and eggs)

I reloaded my Frimi account through a bank transfer and headed out to Keells. The place was packed. I’ve never seen it so crowded before.

Time to Pay

After staying in the queue for a while (seriously, the place was packed), it was time to pay. I gave my nexus number (Keells’ loyalty card system) and asked them to put the payment through Frimi. As my friend had mentioned that their systems can share the details entered for nexus, I didn’t have to do much.

The staff seemed to be struggling with something and they had to bring two people to see what was wrong. I had to give my number again and they were staring at the screen, confused. While this was happening I received an alert on the phone. I assume there was a delay in the notification. Not a huge deal. After mentioning that I had received the request, I confirmed it on the app and it was all done. Then I received an alert for their cashback offer too. Woo! Nothing to sign, didn’t have to pull the wallet out and fumble with cards nor cash.

Sweet sweet cashback

I tried it out yesterday as well. Fairly straightforward but it took a while for the staff member to understand what I was saying — when I mentioned that I’d be paying with Frimi. In the end I literally had to point out the Frimi branding nearby. Was I mumbling earlier? Why didn’t they hear me? AM I INVISIBLE?

So that’s about it.

Thoughts on the Experience

The Nexus integration does seem like the killer feature here. If you’re a regular Keells customer, you’ll most probably have a nexus card and and initiating the transaction through that doesn’t require any effort.

If I didn’t have nexus, I probably won’t care much for it. I’d want to use something simpler like the NFC feature which is on the app — which I’ve never used. Yet.

I heard that some other places don’t do automated transactions, prompting the user to scan the vendor QR code and enter the amount manually. In a case like that, I’d rather stick with card or cash. Especially with Frimi’s payment interface — which needs work.

I feel like the Keells network is going to help Frimi out a lot with actual conversions. Though I’ve had an account for many many months now, this was the only time I actually felt like using it. I can see myself using it again in the future.


It’s not completely Frimi’s fault (in this case), but I don’t like telling my phone number out loud. Suppose I could just use the Nexus card they give, but it involved me pulling the wallet out of my pocket.

I don’t keep a lot of money on the Frimi account, since my primary account is with Sampath Bank. So reloading it is a tiny bit of a pain.

After all this, I come back to this:


Although I have minor complaints about Frimi, they seem to be doing a good job with pushing this product. They’re marketing the hell out of it with constant offers. It’s impressive. Nobody else seems to be on their level yet.

I’m still waiting for Sampath Pay to take off. I don’t see it happening anytime soon.

Upay is promising, but I don’t see any vendors supporting them STILL. Frimi is good, but the ability to have any bank account and/or card on your app trumps all else.

Dialog Genie, not sure what’s happening there either.

Sort out your apps, boys.



Malinthe Samarakoon

Software Developer, Amateur Photographer. Loves Tech, Music, Movies, Food and Coffee.