Nigeria’s authorities are set to revoke the licences of at least 15 struggling mobile money operators under new minimum finance rules, New Telegraph reported.

The newspaper tipped the majority of the 21 companies operating services in the country to fall foul of tough new cash requirements. Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) rules, effective from the end of December 2017, stated operators must have NGN1 billion ($2.8 million) in reserves.

This sum is set to rise to NGN2 billion on 1 July, 2018 – a level the newspaper said many providers would fail to reach. CBN corporate communications director Isaac Okorafor told the publication he didn’t expect any “serious operator” to lose its licence when the July requirement takes effect.

The identities of providers struggling to reach the new threshold were not disclosed.

Nigeria’s authorities have identified a strong mobile money ecosystem as central to meeting the country’s goal of reducing the financial exclusion rate in the country to 20 per cent. In CBN’s 2016 annual report – released in November 2017 – the financial exclusion rate was 41.6 per cent.

In the same document, CBN pointed to a lack of awareness of mobile money services among the unbanked as a priority area to address. During 2016 there were 47 million mobile money transactions made in the country, up 7 per cent from the previous year. The services accounted for 5 per cent of the total electronic transactions processed in the country.