Safaricom, Kenya’s Largest Telecommunication Company is piloting a social messaging app that will link to Mpesa so as to progress the company into the application business, the company said on Tuesday.
Bonga the Kiswahili word that means chatting will incorporate Safaricom's financial services platform to enable around 28 million of its users to sending money and also communicate. This will facilitate the conversion of the platform into a type of social network. Bonga comes as the first launched product by the firm's innovation incubator Alpha.
Kamal Bhattacharya, chief innovation officer at Safaricom, said in a telephone interview, “It’s one thing to share information with somebody it’s another thing to make a payment, to send money to somebody,
“We want to use this platform to make it much easier … for people to engage.”
Safaricom will be examining Bonga with its's staff before the launching of the product later this year.
The chief innovation officer said that the use of Bonga by Mpesa users will enable them to message each other in three methods: user- to -user, user-to-business, and fundraising through “social groups” similar to the group function on WhatsApp.
According to Khal Bhattacharya, the messages on the app will not be stored, thus enabling a platform that will be an end- to- end encrypted.
The launching of Bonga is part of the company's masterplan to boost revenue and add value to its consumers beyond its offering voice calls, text messages and mobile money. For instance last year Safaricom came up with an e-commerce platform named Masoko.
In November its first-half revenue was announced which showed that there rose 16 percent from Mpesa and only 4 percent revenue from phone calls. The revenue of Mobile internet progressed to nearly a third.
Bhattacharya said that "Our future is to become a platform that enables business in Kenya as well as our consumers to do their work in a different way, "Messenger platforms are the most popular apps, the most popular approach on the internet today to bring people together."