Tensions at southern border force Lebanon to delay new FX platform

Tensions at southern border force Lebanon to delay new FX platform
The launch of a new currency exchange platform in crisis-ridden Lebanon has been delayed due to months of cross-border fighting between Hezbollah and Israel.
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Lebanon has been mired by a devastating financial and economic crisis since 2019 [Getty]

Months of shelling across Lebanon's southern border between armed group Hezbollah and Israel has delayed the launch of a currency exchange platform, a senior central bank source told Reuters on Wednesday.

Lebanon's central bank in September said it was seeking to introduce a currency exchange platform run through Bloomberg after phasing out its own, known as Sayrafa, which had been criticised for a lack of transparency and governance.

"What delayed us was the problems in the south and the inability (of foreigners involved in the launch) to come to Lebanon," the source said on condition of anonymity.

Iran-backed armed group Hezbollah has traded fire with the Israeli military across the disputed frontier for more than three months in support of allied Palestinian group Hamas in Gaza.

Tens of thousands have been displaced both in Israel and Lebanon since then. Nearly two dozen Lebanese civilians, including three journalists, and more than 130 Hezbollah fighters have been killed in Lebanon.

Israel says at least nine of its troops have been killed in north Israel, but this could not be verified.

Lebanon has been in a deep economic crisis since 2019. The local Lebanese pound has lost more than 90% of its value and banks have locked some depositors out of their savings.

The central bank said on Tuesday that commercial banks that had not already done so could sign up to install the Bloomberg FX Interbank Matching System, so that they could trade on the currency platform once it launches.

It did not say when the platform would open but said that only approved market-makers would be permitted to trade on it.