Safaricom Platinum and Safaricom Platinum Plus – Wrong products for the right market segment

There are guys called oCharge. You probably have heard about them, or you have no idea at all who they are or what they do. But they are these guys who came to Kenya some time in June 2016 with a mission to give Kenyans free airtime. Last time I heard of them they were in Lions Den pitching for funding; a pitch that no Lion wanted to buy into. By the time they went to Lions Den  I had wrote their business model off arguing that there is nothing like free lunch airtime. However. one and a half years later Safaricom seems to have taken note of their business model and have decided to incorporate that model in Safaricom’s latest proposition – The Safaricom Platinum and Safaricom Platinum plus.

In the one and a half years that oCharge has been in business, they have received somewhere around 100,000 downloads for their end consumer App while the business App has received some 1,000 downloads. Assuming these figures approximate the number of users oCharge has on its platform, we can assume that their business model hasn’t been that bad; a business model in which a user earns 100% of Airtime bought through the App in form of Loyalty Points. These points in turn are redeemable through oCharge partner merchants. As I write this the oCharge App is indicating that there are some 205 redeemable offers from various partner merchants. Of these 205 merchants, I have been able to view only five. I am not sure why I am unable to view the remaining 200 offers, but I guess it’s because they probably don’t exist.

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Now, instead of Safaricom taking the oCharge route where one redeems earned loyalty points at partner merchants, they decided to take the route of offering discounts for products and services that their partner merchants trade. As at now, Safaricom through their Safaricom Platinum and Safaricom Platinum plus product has partnered with Ticketsasa, Eatout, and Shell. As provided for in the Safaricom App, users of Safaricom Platinum and Safaricom Platinum plus are eligible for discounts at  each of the three partner merchants. How one can access these discounts will be the subject of my next article on this subject.

As is obvious, what is common between oCharge and Safaricom Platinum products is that both offer discounts for particular products and services as determined by partner merchants. oCharge having been in the business for more than a year, one can see clearly how Safaricom is now determined to take away this unique business opportunity from the ‘small’ Indians who introduced the loyalty reward business model from airtime consumption in the country.

However, given that oCharge has not grown to be as popular as Uber (Safaricom had to introduce Little to also reap in from Uber’s success), maybe the loyalty reward market in which Safaricom has tried to venture in via the Bonga Points platform will bear fruit. Judging by how Safaricom Platinum and Safaricom Platinum plus are structured, I can confidently say that these two products are actually going nowhere.

This is because although Safaricom is targeting data intensive users with the products, the data they are offering for both platforms are a slap in the face. Take for instance the 30GB data on Safaricom Platinum. This amount of data may sound appetising, but when you consider that a Safaricom Platinum user must part with Kshs 5,000 in order to access that data, you wonder which world Safaricom is living in. The Safaricom platinum Plus users are not spared either, as those ones have to part with Kshs 10K, but not for double the data, but for a meagre 40GB data. I saw the offers and I was like, “wtf?” Isn’t Safaricom aware that today a data intensive user can access 50GB of data for a meagre Kshs 2,000?

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What I can say of Safaricom Platinum and Safaricom Platinum Plus is:- wrong products for the right market segment..

Odipo Riaga
Managing Editor at KachTech Media
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