Nigeria’s operators promised to bring mobile money services to 90 million users within two-and-a-half years if authorities allow them to launch their own services, The Citizen reported.

Reporting from an event held at the Lagos Business School, the news website said executives from MTN Nigeria, Globacom, Airtel Nigeria and 9mobile promised to drive financial inclusion in the country if regulation allowed.

The mobile money industry in Nigeria is primarily led by banks. A few third parties do operate, but many shut services down earlier this year following a change in rules on minimum reserve requirements.

Mobile operators currently provide the backbone infrastructure, but none are licensed to run mobile money services in their own right, unlike comparable markets elsewhere in Africa.

Recent official figures on uptake in Nigeria are not available, but all reports suggest it lags well behind many markets in Africa. The first licences were issued by the Central Bank of Nigeria in 2009, but a 2016 survey published in The Guardian revealed almost three quarters of the population had not even heard of mobile money services let alone signed-up.

The World Bank estimates the total population of Nigeria at 197 million, including children, meaning the 90 million figure floated by operators would represent a significant proportion of adults in the nation.