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Emerging-market businesses need cloud-based storage and services as much as companies in the developed world do—if not more—and Microsoft has stepped up globally to meet those needs. That’s one reason why analysts are predicting that sometime next year Microsoft Azure will surpass Microsoft Office as the company’s largest source of revenue.

At the same time, though, Microsoft has found that demand to extend payment terms is acute in emerging markets. In some cases, this boils down to the fact that working capital is at a premium and Microsoft’s cost of financing is lower than most customer organizations can get from their financial institutions. In other cases, customers may not have access to external credit at all, whether due to the local banking landscape, the country’s compliance requirements, the company’s credit history, etc.

Some cloud customers already needed help with financing prior to 2020, but Covid-19 exacerbated the issue. “Consider a business like an airline or a movie theater,” says Rahul Daswani, the group finance manager within Microsoft Global Treasury and Financial Services (GTFS) who’s responsible for customized financing solutions for markets outside the Americas. “These companies were hit hard in the pandemic. As the global economy comes back, they need Microsoft technologies, but they haven’t yet gotten back to normal cash flow.

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Meg Waters

Meg Waters is the editor in chief of Treasury & Risk. She is the former editor in chief of BPM Magazine and the former managing editor of Business Finance.

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