Safaricom, the largest telecom in Kenya, and the company behind the hugely successful MPESA mobile money, has initiated a campaign to enable business outlets adopt and accept its digital token, Bonga Points, as payment for goods and services.
The initiative, dubbed Bonga Popote, allow you to redeem two Kenya Shillings out of every 10 Bonga Points.
You can now use your Bonga Points to purchase food and other essentials at any retail outlet with a Lipa Na Mpesa Till Number.
Safaricom says that under the initiative, Kenyans are now redeeming an average of 20 million points a day, and the initiative is aimed at cushioning Kenyans during the Covid-19 pandemic with an estimated KES 5.5B (Approx. $51.7M).
According to Safaricom website:
“You can now redeem your Bonga Points and pay for goods and services from select Lipa Na M-PESA outlet. Use your Bonga Points to go shopping or even fill up your car tank for an amazing road trip. All you have to do is visit one of the participating Lipa Na M-PESA outlets, shop, dial *126# and select Lipa na Bonga!”
So far, the largest supermarkets, fuel stations, and fast foods in Kenya are now accepting Bonga Points as payment, which could be a game changer in alternative digital payments beyond MPESA mobile money.
For the longest time, Safaricom has toyed with the idea of unlocking MPESA possibilities by enabling digital payments seamlessly and electronically using Bonga Points. Back in 2018, the company introduced a new ‘conversational and transactional social network’ called Bonga, via the Bonga Sasa app, to enable conversations between family and friends and mobile money transactions with a deep M-PESA integration
While Bonga Sasa network and app failed to gain adoption and usage, the new Lipa Na Bonga (Pay with Bonga Points) seems to be another attempt at it with the Covid-19 pandemic creating the perfect backdrop to get this finally adopted.
In an interview back in 2018, former Safaricom CEO, Bob Collymore, also revealed that the giant telecom was considering looking into the blockchain in order to scale its MPESA mobile money service beyond Kenya.
While the current system seems to indicate that 5 (five) points are backed one-on-one with 1 Kenyan Shilling, it will be interesting to see how this actually evolves, and how customers will start to creatively use this new digital currency in Kenya, as more businesses are expected to adopt the token as payment.