Safaricom has restricted the time within, which customers can use up data resources bought through the use of its Bonga loyalty points, marking an aggressive policy to push the use of the points which are a liability to the telco.
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.
Data redemptions on the telco’s Bonga points USSD platform in the meantime are indicating that Bonga data purchases, which range from 80 MB to one gigabyte, expire effective midnight on the day of the purchase.
Airtime and talk-time minutes’ redemptions have a validity period of seven days, while SMS redemptions have an expiry window of between 24 hours and 30 days, depending on the units redeemed.
“The data bundles purchased will be valid for seven (7) days after which any unused resources will expire and will no longer be available for use,” the telco’s terms and conditions on Bonga bundles state.
The move by the telco to cap the life of the Bonga resources reflects the recent push by the company to encourage subscribers to use up their loyalty points.
The value of outstanding or unredeemed points has been going up over the years —hitting Sh4.5 billion in March 2022 from Sh3 billion in 2015— despite the company expanding the options for redemption to include the merchant payments through its Lipa na M-Pesa and Paybill options, and purchase of plane tickets.
However, the valuation of Bonga points has not been consistent over the years, with the worth of each loyalty point varying depending on the merchandise or non-merchandise items being redeemed.
The loyalty points are recognised as a liability, or deferred income, in Safaricom’s books and are only booked as revenue upon redemption by customers either for airtime, SMS, merchandise or shopping.
The company also recognises loyalty points on churned SIM cards as revenue. Safaricom uses the same concept to recognise airtime revenue.
Prepaid airtime sold to customers is held as deferred revenue until the customer uses it.
The loyalty scheme, introduced in January 2007, gives subscribers one Bonga point for every Sh10 spent on the Safaricom network on voice, mobile data and SMS, and for every Sh100 spent on the network for M-Pesa transactions.