Bonga by Alpha is a Messaging platform with integrated Mpesa

safaricom

#41

looks like it only works with beta testers


#42

Worked for me, yes I had applied as a beta tester.


#43

Works for me too, it’s like a trimmed down version of WhatsApp with Mpesa


#44

Has there been any mention of privacy or encryption? Ama they have access to all messages?


#45

UPDATE

They ‘rectified’ it yesterday

The app finally appeared on my side of the playstore - About 2 hours ago

Below are comments from my interaction, which may differ from others for obvious reasons - location, device type, email & phone number, position of request in BETA queue, social standing (influencers [of which I am not] might have a different view).

Kindly share your launch/early impressions/reviews so we may discuss.

Terms & Conditions

Their terms and conditions link needs some cleanup - browser one works half the time with the app one showing as ‘Insecure’ on Samsung Browser

image

Their Terms and conditions state that you’ll be requested to accept terms and conditions AFTER you logged in yet at launch they’re already ticked - yes, ticked by default in my case. While it can be argued that users opted into the terms at BETA signup, it is still good practice to protect users by requesting agreements a second time. If they decide against this, then clarify during BETA signup that going forward all usage is bound by a singular terms and conditions agreement.

Terms also say ‘You agree not to bring any claims against Safaricom’ but proceeds below to ask you to report said claims to their support contacts - is this just legalese (if so, could be clarified?) or something else because why ask for feedback/reporting when you stated that users can’t hold you accountable for it? Sending money isn’t entirely free so some dispute accountability should be expected on safcons part.

The app is aggressive about contacts - won’t let you log in before giving it access - and asks for access to media, which ideally should be requested when one is about to attach an item, and not at runtime as media permissions are arguably classified under ‘dangerous permissions’

OTP

Their OTP verification is odd - my code didn’t come the first time so requested again (and again). I got:

  • The SAME CODE everytime
  • The SAME CODE from MULTIPLE senders - even regular (unofficial?) safcon numbers

They need to decide on:

  • A single sender ID - preferably BONGA and not personal numbers
  • Randomizing the OTP upon each request
  • Using 8 digits instead of 6 - recommended for sensitive financial data

Don’t tell users not to show their OPT to a third party yet you as an organization can’t decide on which sender ID the code will come from. For all we know, the personal numbers who are sending this code are 3rd parties.

STK Push For Authentication?

Alternatively, they could use STK push to verify users and log them in that way. No sense in adding another security feature when the app is relying on STK Push to query & display your MPESA balance.

Profile Creation

Once logged in, app asks to set the user photo and user name then the app asks you to start a conversation. If the app is reading your contacts, why ask for this when people know who they’ve saved each other as? If only MPESA registered numbers are allowed full access to the app - with these numbers shown first in the contacts list, can’t the app simply import peoples names from the MPESA database? The app is by MPESA parent company so theoretically no data is going to third parties & people will see your name when you transact anyway so why add this step?

Repetitive & Borderline Nagging Notifications

if you denied it any permissions and proceed to close then relaunch the app, it requests again - that’s normal, what isn’t is this request is at runtime for dangerous permissions. This happened, momentarily freezing my lockscreen

On phones running 6.0.1 and above (I’m testing on android 8.0), WhatsApp permission to media files, if denied at install & first launch, are only requested when one tries to attach a file to share with a contact:

Vs Bonga that nags you for this, whenever the app is launched and at random times while using it:

When you open your profile menu and ask for your balance, it asks for your pin and sends you:

  • A push notification to the device showing your balance. This disappears in 15 seconds
  • An MPESA SMS, also with your balance.

Customer Care

Customer care is handled within the app - nice that one doesn’t have to leave to contact them elsewhere.

Would be nice if it had a pre-written help/FAQ section, a community forum to discuss and provide insights or a way to rate the experience per feature using emojis to record feedback - Facebook App has a feature where reporting an issue takes a screenshot of selected page + additional information entered by the user. Windows insiders trying out office 365 have experience with this as well.

Note:
Once opened, the customer care chat icon seems to persist across the app (see screenshot on requesting your MPESA balance) - like how safcon texts you after you didn’t make a selection when you dial *100#

To dismiss them, swipe the chat bubble to the right - would be more poetic if it was to the left ala Tinder but alas.

Uploading…

Sending Messages

The call to action for sending a message would be appropriate if the app had been configured to target different users based on their profiles. BETA users would all know how to start a chat. People already know it’s a chat app - the name gives it away - so perhaps a future update would turn it from an instructive call to action to an incentivized one E.G. Your First Transaction Is FREE*

*MPESA limits apply


#46

Given how Techweez is basically a forum for safcon to get feedback, and as a tech website has been instrumental in pushing their brand to techies and (mostly) skeptical consumers, why wouldn’t they list the Techweez article on Bonga as a reference in their google form? [screenshot below]

This article -> Safaricom’s Bonga is a Messaging Platform with Deep M-Pesa Integration even if it meant giving them an update or write a teaser preview in addition to the QZ one? The app is MPESA only, so for the moment just works in Kenya, so all it’s users at least need a safcon number. Announcing the BETA launch on East Africa’s Largest Tech News Site with a Kenya First presence seems more direct. Aren’t the beta testers supposed to be from KE & the Larger East Africa?

QZ is great when announcing official launches but why not Techweez? Maybe I’m alone but QZ isn’t the first place i think of when I want to read about Kenyan tech or discuss matters with the community


#47

It’s like you were seeing the future with this post. There is a possibility for Please Call Me in regards to loans. They comment on requesting money owed using Bonga in this video:


#48

Almost a week in and there is no activity on the app from safcon’s side - no re-engagement in form of push notifications, even to remind people of features or to ask how the app is being received.

I received an SMS from Bonga on Idd-ul-Ahza, which was odd, as I thought this is something that should come from the app instead.

Maybe engagement from server side is based on app usage? Anyone have a different experience they can share?


#49

Bonga’s USP is that it’s a Kenyan app? Wow.

Secondly, the upcoming features all sound great but for a business to switch to Bonga over WhatsApp will mean that Bonga first gets users. Telegram, which is a great service and much more better than WhatsApp still has a long way to go in Kenya. Bonga does not offer anything tangible over WhatsApp at the moment.

They should have just partnered with WhatsApp to have WhatsApp pay run on M-Pesa.


#50

Day one of the app going live there was a lot of activity within the app. Guys randomly sending 10 bobs and 20 bobs but since then, everything has slowly died out and now Bonga is just sitting on my app drawer using up space.


#51

another failed experiment by Safaricom…


#52

Safaricom needs to stop seeing their failed experiments they need deep research on what Kenyans need

Masoko fail
Bigbox fail
songa fail
Bonga messaging might fail because it might be seen as a way to beg for cash
I won’t even try it.
why not work on the saf app, combine all these experimental apps there, bring in the mledger app to my saf, the masoko, safaricom shop, songa etc, it would be much easier to get users if they use the app already accepted by the masses.


#53

mamen! me too.


#54

Combining the app risks breaking a working product for experiments. Safcon don’t have a history for creating great products - Masoko failed even though they controlled everything from cloud infrastructure to marketing - so making separate apps then assimilating what works into the main app is a safer bet.

Still. They need to listen to consumers. Either they don’t listen to consumers and are just living their own fantasies thinking they can tell customers what to do and get away with it like Apple does, or their so-called data driven approach isn’t as HCD as customers would want so what exactly are they doing over there? How can people keep calling their products failure one after another?


#55

Safaricom should have simply worked with mainstream apps like WhatsApp, telegram or Wechat to intergrate payment solutions. Unless their app is revolutionary, I don’t see much adoption happening


#56

i agree with stifler on using the partnerships approach to integrate their payment solutions.


#57

This should be a priority as majority of their users already have these apps installed and there is no learning curve. Unlike the mysafcon app, downloading Bonga doesn’t seem to refund the bundles used - a 13MB download give or take - so people who buy 20MB a day wouldn’t waste their bundles on this.

Then there is this article by @AbuyasLife:

Yes, the menu is slow. Slower when you’re on a supermarket or MPESA withdraw queue. It’s filled with options that majority don’t even use day to day - how often do you use Top Up Services option on your STK menu? MPESA targets people who don’t do traditional banking so why ask them to select their bank on the STK?

The STK load times will become a non-issue once STK push is available on all payment outlets. Supermarkets can go a step further and push the price to peoples phones once their developers deepen the integration.

Safcon says it is data driven, then they can use that data to determine what STK features customers use and update menus appropriately.

Those who have sent money to paybills via Bonga, is there an option to save the business & it’s paybill to speed up the process in future? Safcon knows the most popular withdrawn amounts on MPESA so can’t this be an option via Bonga like how banks recommend withdraw or airtime purchase amounts via their app?

Let’s consider the statistical argument that millions of people could be trying to access the STK command processing server simultaneously. What about caching frequently used commands on nodes at the cell tower level?


#58

Uploading…
Hi Teri and all,

This is Tevin and I am on the team developing Bonga. I just want to jump in to offer some clarity on what we are doing. As you might have read, Bonga is our new messaging platform which allows easier, convenient form of payments by enabling you to chat, send, receive and also request for money, all within one screen . At the moment Bonga is in public closed beta, and has been since we launched on the 16th of August. We are super excited about the feedback on this thread and appreciate guys like you digging in and highlight the issues. It is also the first time anyone in the region has done this, and we are figuring out the feedback loop, even as we fix bugs, and roll out new features.
Thank you for callling us out, and we welcome any ideas for increased engagement. Picking up on some of the issues, let me try attempt to address them:

  1. OTP: We use Firebase’s Authentication service to facilitate the one time pin. The issues you’ve raised were also raised during our private beta. On further investigation we were made aware the Firebase uses a pool of numbers as sources of the one time pins, as well as using varying formats for the actual SMS, for security purposes. Another observation on firebase is that when two OTPs is requested within a few minutes of each other, you may get the same pin. We acknowledge that this a problem and we’re looking into more standardized methods of authentication. We’ll keep you posted.
  2. On us asking you for permissions to access your photos, media and files, we need this permission if you were to send media attachments on Bonga. Admittedly, t’is a mistake to ask for these permissions before the app requires to use them. We’re fixing this issue.
  3. On contact permissions; Bonga needs to access your contacts to allow you chat with other Bonga users. Bonga also needs to know which of your contacts is on Bonga so that on the app, you can differentiate between who you can chat with and who you currently can’t chat with. You can still send money to non-bonga contacts though.
  4. On general lack of engagement, the point you raise is fair enough.We should have done better, we promise to improve. On any other issue, you can contact me directly on tevin@bonga.ke or our user support lead carol@bonga.ke and we’ll get back to you. Follow us on twitter @bonga_ke where we can engage more and give regular updates. Those interested in being part of our next beta test group, please sign up at : https://bonga.ke/

Thanks,
T


#59

Hi. Are we getting this feature(ability to share media) in future?


#60

Hey Samuel, that feature actually already exists in the P2P Chat. You can currently attach pictures, documents, audio & contacts. The permission is also used for picking & uploading a contact photo when you’re onboarding.

T