Safaricom has implemented a new policy that allows it to use its loyalty points program, known as Bonga Points, to settle unpaid credit advances called Okoa Jahazi. According to the Business Daily, the move is aimed at addressing defaults on credit advances and reducing the value of billions of shillings’ worth of outstanding Bonga points, which are a liability to the company.
Customers who delay paying their calls and SMS credit advance through the Okoa Jahazi service will now have the amounts automatically settled by debiting their loyalty points. Customers can request a credit advance, which they are required to settle within five days, and an advance fee of 10 percent is charged for each Okoa Jahazi request, resulting in a customer receiving 90 percent of the credit advance.
A message from Safaricom to a customer reads, “Dear customer, we have deducted 2,500 Bonga points for Sh750 to repay your Okoa loan.” With this, the value of each point is 30 cents.
Each Safaricom subscriber earns loyalty points when using the company’s telephony services, resulting in substantial resources which the telco is now tapping to settle unpaid Okoa Jahazi debt. The Bonga Points can be redeemed for rewards including talk-time, data bundles, and messaging bundles. In addition to data, minutes and SMS, the points are usually redeemable for merchandise at select retail outlets while using Lipa na M-Pesa service.
This new development comes less than three months since Safaricom reversed a plan to put an expiry date on its Bonga loyalty programme that had amassed Ksh.5 billion in liabilities by March 2022. The latest position by the company is against a November 2022 update of the programme’s terms and conditions that would have seen unclaimed points expire effective January 1, 2023.
Safaricom began the loyalty programme in October 2017, giving both prepaid and postpaid subscribers a point for every Ksh10 spent on its network. The company has also restricted the time within which customers can use up data resources bought through the use of its Bonga loyalty points. Bonga data bundles that were previously marked as having no expiry are now carrying a validity of seven days, as per terms and conditions published by the telco.
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