Safaricom has disabled a phone code that was being used to trade in Bonga Points by a Nairobi-based IT firm.
Onfon Media developed the code, *981*400#, that it was using to buy the loyalty points from Safaricom subscribers at Sh0.20 each and selling them for Sh0.35, hence earning a return of 75 per cent.
The platform started operation on Wednesday and is said to have handled more than 10,000 orders in the four hours it was on air before being shut down by Safaricom.
Thursday, Safaricom said the platform was established without its approval and was mulling over what action to take against Onfon Media—which is owned by businessman Dennis Makori.
“Onfon was contacted and a meeting has been scheduled to engage and establish the cause for this so as to determine action to be taken,” said Safaricom in a statement.
The Business Daily has established that Safaricom held a meeting with Mr Makori, who declined to reveal details of the meeting. Sources close to Onfon Media reckon that it established the platform as a new revenue stream and offer Safaricom subscribers a window to make money from the Bonga Points.
Customers earn one point for every Sh10 spent on voice calls, SMS, Internet and some chargeable M-Pesa transactions.
Bonga Points can be redeemed in the form of airtime, SMSs, data bundles and merchandise such as mobile phones, modems and laptops. They can also be transferred to other users. Since the launch of the loyalty programme six years ago, Safaricom customers had earned more than 50 billion Bonga Points by June. About 82 per cent have been redeemed, valued at Sh8.5 billion.
In May, Bob Collymore, the CEO of Safaricom said there are more than 9.5 billion Bonga Points on Safaricom’s network system and that the mobile telecommunication firm was looking to widen its offerings and unlock the royalty.
This led Safaricom to sign a deal with Kenya Airways where passengers on KQ domestic flights can use the Bonga points to settle their air fares as the telecom opens a new frontier for its customers to enjoy its loyalty programme.
Safaricom subscribers can exchange 28,000 Bonga Points for a one way ticket — and 40,000 for a return ticket — to fly economy on any of the four domestic routes served by KQ, including Mombasa, Kisumu, Malindi and Eldoret.