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In 2014 to 2015, oil prices took a beating, and it became clear that they were not going to rise much in the short term. Companies and government entities across the Middle East began pushing to extend payment terms on purchases, and the software sector was not exempt from this trend. “Cash flow was an issue with virtually all our customers,” says Rahul Daswani, senior manager in the Structured Finance group for Microsoft’s Worldwide Payment Solutions division. “Our public-sector customers were adjusting to the new realities of their own budgets, so they were wanting longer payment terms.”
Microsoft’s business model in the Middle East involves licensing sales through local software integrators, and these companies were getting squeezed. Microsoft didn’t want to accept non-standard payment terms from the software integrators because of the business complexities that doing so would raise. Microsoft sets credit limits, companywide, based on an analysis of customer financials and uses various credit management solutions to mitigate those risks. However, this process is more difficult in the Middle East compared with other parts of the world, because many Middle East markets are designated “high risk.”
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