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Lebanese Central Bank to develop lending & trade finance platform

The Governor of the Central Bank of Lebanon, Mr. Riad Salameh, with the support of Prime Minister Hassan Diab,  published a circular which discusses a new initiative to build a sustainable solution for Lebanese manufacturers  who want to sell their products both locally as well as internationally. The Governor had previously announced that he would provide 100 million USD to fund the importation of raw material. The Fund is called the Oxygen Fund. 

The decision involves the implementation of a platform based out of Europe whose sole aim is to serve the Lebanese economy by offering short-term credit facilities for Lebanese importers and exporters in cooperation with local Lebanese banks as well as the Lebanese Manufacturing Association and Ministry of Manufacturing.

According to the circular, the Fintech platform based out of Europe, a lending and trade finance platform, fully complies to the socioeconomic interconnected governance model utilizing best international practices. It is a financial initiative that aims to raise 750 million dollars to assist small and medium sized manufacturers as well as develop a sustainable lending platform to purchase 3 billion dollars’ worth of raw material for manufacturing sector. Central Bank of Lebanon will be an anchor partner for this initiative in addition to international investors, manufacturers, family offices as well as financial lending institutions, and alternative digital fund managers

The Fintech platform project will be lead by Mr.  Alexandre Jihad Harkous  a well-established investor, businessman and a partner of LIFE  ( Lebanese International Finance Executives) organization. Harkous heads a technology company called  One Wealth Place in France. Mr. Harkous will be leading this project in his own personal capacity and not as chairman of OneWealthPlace, in addition he will be assisted by Mr. Michel Kilzi  who is Chief Executive Officer of Fineon Exchange  based in Luxemburg, which works  to redefine export trade finance by optimizing exporter working capital and improving cash conversion cycle.He announced his involvement in a post on LinkedIn as well on a personal capacity. More than 10 other financial experts will be involved in this project as well as members of LIFE (Lebanese International Finance Experts)

The experience of Both Mr. Harkous and Mr. Kilzi is well established when it comes to digitization projects for funding and trade finance as well as the utilization of technologies such as AI, Blockchain and others. It will be interesting to see if these technologies will be utilized in the Oxygen Fund project to ensure transparency, and efficiancy. 

The platform is expected to be launched in April 2020. The circular can be found in attachment below. 

Lara Abdul Malak

Lara has been a journalist and writer in the technology field since her graduation from AUB majoring in political science. She has had career in corporation communications in the telecom sector and was part of the launch of first 3G network in the GCC and MENA region. Since her return to journalism she has been focused with passion on blockchain, tokenization, crypto focusing on the GCC and MENA region. Lara worked with Unlock Blockchain until 2022.

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