The Silver Lining of the COVID-19 Pandemic

How we, at Cedar Oxygen, are part of the solution.

Cedar Oxygen’s digitalization of finance and “real economy” credit offering for Lebanese borrowers provides a much needed roadmap for the next few years of inclusive finance that should be prioritized by the main stakeholders: investors, donors, development agencies and the like, so as to make sure all share the same broad outlook and priorities… and eventually team-up.

It has become evident over time that the economic fall-out is not going to be a hard, one-off shock, but rather a rolling series of crises that will play out over months and even years, as the disruption and uncertainty caused by the pandemic flow through the world’s economies, especially the emerging and frontier countries.

Undoubtedly, Lebanon will bear the added strains caused by corruption, capital control, devaluation, inflation, deepening and widening poverty, insufficient infrastructure, an absence of banking and financial services, black market vulture cambios, and the highest refugee population per capita in the world.

Cedar Oxygen’s inclusive “digitalized web-enabled financial systems” will be part of the solution, especially as it regards the nations efforts to combat the coronavirus (COVID-19).  This focus will be welcome news to donors who are often unclear on how most effectively to tailor their interventions.

As we move into Q4 2020, the focus is shifting away from immediate liquidity needs and damage control to building stronger and more resilient financial services offerings for the future of the real economy. This is where the need to digitalize is reflexively offered as a solution. But rarely has one explored why Cedar Oxygen might be the solution, not what it would take to bring credit and financing for Lebanese importers and exporters more fully into the digital age.

The pandemic will accelerate this process of digital transformation of traditional trade finance, Foreign Exchange P2P as well as digitally enabled remittance solutions, and why it is imperative for the DFI and Investor Community to take Cedar Oxygen seriously. 

Check out this great article about the digital transformation of Global Trade in a post-pandemic world here

What we, at Cedar Oxygen, are doing:

  • Educate and provide digitalized Trade Finance solutions to importers of raw materials and exporters of value-add products
  • Developing a FX P2P Platform for Industrialists
  • Looking at future digital remittances solution

How we, at Cedar Oxygen, are doing it:

1. Channels:

One of the most important insights from COVID-19 pandemic is a need to find new ways to reach and interact with customers, not just because we have to observe social distancing, but because even in normal times, people value convenience and services that reflect their needs.

Cedar Oxygen is building alternative channels in response to the pandemic including remote customer on-boarding and online chat on our digitalized platform.

This trend will continue through integration of larger platforms and has the added benefit of lower cost and expanded reach.

2. Product diversification:

To achieve product diversification, Cedar Oxygen gathers data
(in full compliance with GDPR) for internal use on borrowers and is building sophisticated back-office capabilities and technology skills.

3. Fintech Experience:

Cedar Oxygen’s team strong fintech experience is obviously important and lacking at many of the traditional banks in Lebanon.

Having key executives and core staff with abilities to assess and implement technology-driven solutions is important, and these skills are scarce and expensive. It’s also worth reflecting that other requisites in this digital transformation are in evidence at Cedar Oxygen, including risk management, treasury, monitoring, reporting and core IT skills.

Moving rapidly from face-to-face models to incorporating remote service functions in response to COVID-19 is not just “a” reality, but our reality.

In 6 months, and in response to the multiple crisis that have hit Lebanon this year, we have managed to remotely set up a first-time team first-time fund and raise $175M via digital and agile processes.

Complacency is no longer an option, as we ourselves have been touched by positive COVID infections at Cedar Oxygen.