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Blockchain Vulnerabilities, Forensics And Legal Challenges

McCarthy Tetrault | Barry B. Sookman | Nov 19, 2021

Hacks scams fraud in blockchain - Blockchain Vulnerabilities, Forensics And Legal ChallengesIt is often assumed that blockchain based digital currencies and applications are safe and secure. In fact, blockchain ecosystems including cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin and Ether, smart contracts that power a plethora of transactions, and blockchain exchanges have many vulnerabilities.

Like many other financial systems, blockchain based systems are subject to all manner of hacks, frauds scams, and vulnerabilities. They happen at the speed and anonymity of the Internet.

There are, understandably, numerous legal challenges when it comes to obtaining civil remedies for these Internet based crimes. This is as true, and perhaps even more so, for blockchain hacks, scams, and frauds as it is for a whole host of other Internet crimes and wrongs.

Blockchain vulnerabilities, hacks, frauds and scams

There are trillions of dollars invested in blockchain based digital currencies. Bloomberg recently estimated that the cryptocurrency market is now worth more than U.S. $3 trillion. There are well recognized financial risks associated with cryptocurrencies volatility. But, this has not seemed to have dampened the market for these items.

See:  Crypto fraud and breaches on pace to exceed $3 billion in 2021

While losses from hacks and vulnerabilities are hard to estimate, by one account hackers have stolen nearly $2 billion worth of cryptocurrencies in the two year period between 2017-2019. Some hacks are by lone hackers, but many are by sophisticated cybercrime organizations. According to a recent article In the MIT Security review, the hype that these assets are unhackable  are “dead wrong”. According to the article:

In short, while blockchain technology has been long touted for its security, under certain conditions it can  be quite vulnerable. Sometimes shoddy execution can be blamed, or unintentional software bugs. Other times it’s more of a gray area—the complicated result of interactions between the code, the economics of the blockchain, and human greed. That’s been known in theory since the technology’s beginning. Now that so many blockchains are out in the world, we are learning what it actually means—often the hard way. [ii]

As with every other financial system, there are opportunities for fraud. One vector is fraud associated with online marketplaces.

Private key security attacks are also a known means of allowing malicious actors to steal cryptocurrencies. A private key allows individuals to access funds and verify transactions. An attacker who has discovered a vulnerability in an elliptic curve digital signature algorithm, for example, can recover a user’s private key. If a private key is stolen, it is difficult to track any related criminal activity and recover the relevant blockchain asset.[viii]

See:  Decentralized Finance—Risks, Regulation, and the Road Ahead

Hackers have also been known to steal the keys to cryptocurrency wallets.[ix]

Of course marketplaces, like almost every other organization in Canada are subject to data breaches from a myriad of sources.

Despite all the security features blockchain offers, individuals and organizations are still susceptible to phishing attacks.

SIM swap attacks are also not uncommon.

Hackers have also been known to exploit technical weaknesses in blockchain systems.

Hackers can also engage in Routing Attacks. Blockchains rely on real-time, large data transfers. Hackers can intercept real-time large data transfers such as by hijacking IP prefixes or dropping connections momentarily, preventing the system from reaching consensus.

See: 

Crypto scams, DeFi hacks, and rug pulls: Why the crypto industry needs insurtech

CipherTrace August 2021 Crypto Crime Report: Crypto Fraud Dips as DeFi Hacks Grow

Other examples of technical weaknesses were a cryptographic flaw in the cryptocurency Zcash that could have been exploited to make unlimited counterfeit Zcash and in bitcoin’s main client, Bitcoin Core, that had a flaw that could have let attackers mint more bitcoins than the system was supposed to allow. [xviii]

Research shows that there are also many other security vulnerabilities associated with in smart contracts[xxi] Other types of attacks include the “Balance Attack” and “Sybil Attacks”. [xxii]

Continue to the full article --> here

 


NCFA Jan 2018 resize - Blockchain Vulnerabilities, Forensics And Legal Challenges The National Crowdfunding & Fintech Association (NCFA Canada) is a financial innovation ecosystem that provides education, market intelligence, industry stewardship, networking and funding opportunities and services to thousands of community members and works closely with industry, government, partners and affiliates to create a vibrant and innovative fintech and funding industry in Canada. Decentralized and distributed, NCFA is engaged with global stakeholders and helps incubate projects and investment in fintech, alternative finance, crowdfunding, peer-to-peer finance, payments, digital assets and tokens, blockchain, cryptocurrency, regtech, and insurtech sectors. Join Canada's Fintech & Funding Community today FREE! Or become a contributing member and get perks. For more information, please visit: www.ncfacanada.org

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RegTech: Powering the future of regulation

ADGM | Nov 23, 2021

Powering the future of regulation - RegTech:  Powering the future of regulation

The Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA) of Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) has published a report on its experience with using regulatory technology (regtech) solutions to improve regulatory outcomes for financial institutions.

See:  Fintech, regtech and the role of compliance 2021

By setting out case studies detailing how the FSRA has worked with leading regtech providers, the report provides learning points for financial institutions and other regulators who are embarking on their journey to adopt new technology that makes compliance easier and more efficient.

Download the 43 page PDF report --> here


NCFA Jan 2018 resize - RegTech:  Powering the future of regulation The National Crowdfunding & Fintech Association (NCFA Canada) is a financial innovation ecosystem that provides education, market intelligence, industry stewardship, networking and funding opportunities and services to thousands of community members and works closely with industry, government, partners and affiliates to create a vibrant and innovative fintech and funding industry in Canada. Decentralized and distributed, NCFA is engaged with global stakeholders and helps incubate projects and investment in fintech, alternative finance, crowdfunding, peer-to-peer finance, payments, digital assets and tokens, blockchain, cryptocurrency, regtech, and insurtech sectors. Join Canada's Fintech & Funding Community today FREE! Or become a contributing member and get perks. For more information, please visit: www.ncfacanada.org

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How do you finance a home that needs repairs

Guest Post | Dec 7, 2021

Financing house repairs - How do you finance a home that needs repairs

Image: Unsplash

Having a comfortable home is one of the things we take for granted until all of a sudden it needs a repair. Repairs often happen at unfortunate times namely a broken furnace in the middle of winter. Reports show that 12% of Americans aren't prepared for an immediate cost of 400$ and every homeowner has to spend an average of almost $5000 on home repairs every year.

So how can you pay for such costs? If you have a pile of savings, that's okay. But on the condition that you don't have and you don't want to take a hit on your monthly budget; here are some ways you can finance a home repair.

Personal Loan

If you want to settle the issue with low risk then a personal loan can be your best option. Your credit determines if you are qualified for a personal loan and the interest rate you will pay. Better credit history and score may help you get a loan with a lower interest rate. A personal loan is often unsecured as sometimes it may not be backed by any collateral. Depending on the lender, you can borrow $1000 up to $100,000 from Banks, Credit Unions, or Online lenders. The main advantage of personal loans is that they are issued quickly, normally within a few days.

Home Equity Loans

Home equity loans are best suited for using your home value. You can borrow up to 85% of your home value through this excluding mortgages. In a normal sense, if your house is worth $400,000 and you have a remaining mortgage of $300,000; thus you can get up to an $85,000 loan. You will get a lump sum with a fixed interest rate to pay within 5 to 15 years.

You may consider taking this loan if you want to make a big change to your house like changing your roof. Otherwise, it's risky as you are using your house as collateral. If your loan gets defaults, you will lose your house in no time.

Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC)

Home equity line of credit and home equity loan are similar as they both use the home as your collateral. But in HELOC instead of getting a lump sum, you use your home equity on your need basis. HELOC loan works in two stages. You can borrow as per your need during the loan period, paying interest on the amount you borrow. But you will have to pay the entire loan after hitting the maximum amount of loan you can borrow or your loan period ends. In a nutshell, HELOC works like a credit card.

FHA 203(k) Loan

FHA 203(k) loan can be used to buy and repair a fixer-upper(a home that needs repair) or to renovate your existing house. Its interest rate is higher than the general FHA mortgage.

You will need credit scores of at least 580 to get a 203k loan although a score of 620-640 is for some lenders. Besides, FHA demands a 3.5% down payment for a loan of up to 110% of your equity value after renovation.

The main benefit of a 203k loan is it offers lower interest rates than personal loans or credit cards. But if you need quick cash then 203k mightn't be your best option as it requires some time to do the paperwork.

FHA Title 1 Loan

FHA Title 1 loan is also backed by the federal housing administration. If you need a small renovation or quick repair, a title 1 loan can help you borrow up to $7500. It is an unsecured loan.  You will require a debt-to-income ratio 0f 45% or less to be eligible for an FHA Title 1 loan and you must live in it for at least 3 months if the property is a residence.  The advantage of it is that no minimum credit score is required and the interest rate is usually low.

Alternatives to Home Repair Loans

Cash-out Refinancing

Cash-out refinancing allows you to take advantage of your home equity by replacing your home loan with a bigger mortgage. It can be a clever move if you can lower the interest on your primary mortgage and make the best use of the funds.

Reverse Mortgage 

A reverse mortgage allows homeowners ages 62 and older to take a lump sum or a line of credit against their home equity. But unlike mortgages in which the lenders take payments from the homeowner; in a reverse mortgage, the homeowner takes the payment from the lender.

Credit Cards

You may get a loan from a credit card with a 0% introductory interest if you have good credit. It can be beneficial to be the use of minor repairs. If you can clear the loan within 12 to 18 months then there won't be any interest charged. For bigger repair, you shouldn't consider taking a loan with credit cards as if you fail to clear the loan within introductory periods, you may end up paying 15% APR which is an average of every credit card available.

If you are a homeowner then home repairs are inevitable. The best way to avoid taking any kind of home repair loan is to be prepared. House consultants advise saving 1% of your house equity for unexpected repairs.

If you want good consultancy and more information about financing home repair, visit reliabledp.com


NCFA Jan 2018 resize - How do you finance a home that needs repairs The National Crowdfunding & Fintech Association (NCFA Canada) is a financial innovation ecosystem that provides education, market intelligence, industry stewardship, networking and funding opportunities and services to thousands of community members and works closely with industry, government, partners and affiliates to create a vibrant and innovative fintech and funding industry in Canada. Decentralized and distributed, NCFA is engaged with global stakeholders and helps incubate projects and investment in fintech, alternative finance, crowdfunding, peer-to-peer finance, payments, digital assets and tokens, blockchain, cryptocurrency, regtech, and insurtech sectors. Join Canada's Fintech & Funding Community today FREE! Or become a contributing member and get perks. For more information, please visit: www.ncfacanada.org

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Wealthsimple exits UK market (for now) – Too many investment apps in the UK?

Betakit | | Dec 6, 2021

elephant bank - Wealthsimple exits UK market (for now) - Too many investment apps in the UK?As Wealthsimple exits another international market, the Canadian FinTech giant has completed the transition begun earlier this year to focus solely on Canada.

Wealthsimple announced today that the company has sold its UK book of business to European digital wealth manager Moneyfarm (terms of the deal were not disclosed). Wealthsimple UK will transfer its existing 16,000 customers to Moneyfarm by end of January next year, and no longer provide advisory services.

The sale is the last step in a transition out of international markets begun earlier this year. Wealthsimple sold its US book of business to Betterment in March, citing a desire to focus more directly on the Canadian market.

“I think what you’ve seen from us, as we’ve divested from the advisors business a year ago, as we left the US market to focus on Canada, it’s about focus,” Katchen said, referencing Wealthsimple’s sale of its advisory service in 2020.

See:  Wealthsimple adds crypto portfolios to group-retirement plans

In contrast to its market scale-back, Wealthsimple has been aggressive in expanding its product offerings, adding savings and spending, cryptocurrency asset purchasing and spending, as well as peer-to-peer payments. In June, Katchen also told BetaKit that the company is exploring credit and insurance offerings.

Still, at that time, the CEO noted “our ambitions remain beyond Canada, and certainly we’re excited about other markets in time.”

The phrasing closely mirrors that of Murphree, which indicates Wealthsimple might not remain Canada-only forever.

Before new markets might come an IPO. In 2019, Katchen told BetaKit that Wealthsimple had set a target of $20 billion in assets under administration (AUA) before considering an initial public offering. According to the company, Wealthsimple currently sits at $15 billion in AUA, with over 2.5 million clients and tax filers across its Invest, Trade, Crypto, Tax, and Cash services; that’s three-quarters of the way to the finish line and a significant number of customers.

At the start of the decade, the standard FinTech approach to growth was to own one segment of the local financial value chain and scale to own it globally. Such global ambitions have mostly been dashed by a highly-regulated space where regulations differ per market, limiting the traditional scaling benefits of technology businesses (see Revolut’s on and off and perhaps on again-relationship with Canada).

See:  Rise of the super app

Following this year’s Money 20/20 conference in Las Vegas, the aspiration for FinTechs now seems to be becoming financial services ‘super apps’, adopting the model of Chinese giants like Alipay and WeChat. Both Revolut and PayPal have warmed up to the branding, and with some analysts skeptical that local wedge-product incumbents have what it take to compete globally with the likes of Apple and Amazon, the proposition of using regulatory hurdles as a walled garden to becoming a national FinTech super app seems quite appealing.

Continue to the full article --> here


The Armchair Trader | Stuart Fieldhouse | Dec 6, 2021

Low cost investment app Wealthsimple announces exit from UK market

Investment app Wealthsimple has announced it is closing down its UK operations and transferring its existing clients over to rival service Moneyfarm. The Canadian-based investment service said it would instead be refocusing efforts on its Canadian clients.

Wealthsimple had been active in the UK offering low cost investment services for almost five years. The company said it had contacted all its UK customers today about the transfer to Moneyfarm. Eligible assets will be transferred over in cash and will be reinvested in Moneyfarm portfolios based on the client’s investment goals.

Too many investment apps in the UK?

The decision by Wealthsimple to pack its bags is being seen by some experts as evidence that the low cost money app game is getting a little overcrowded. Further withdrawals and collapses are anticipated next year, including some M&A activity. There just seem to be too many so-called robo-advisers operating in the UK market, and margins are very thin indeed.

See:  How Do Canadian Discount Brokers Compare With Robinhood?

“The difference between setting up an app-based investment service and full financial advice couldn’t be larger and the general public is clearly waking up to this,” said Adam Walkom, co-founder of IFA Permanent Wealth Partners in London. “Finance can be scary and intimidating and people can and will make mistakes. That’s unfortunate but there is no substitute for a real person to talk through your situation and help you. Yes, of course it costs more, but what price do you put on peace of mind and long-term wealth building?”

The apps have succeeded in assisting many first time investors into the market in a cost-effective way, including helping them to benefit from the massive rally in stocks last year. But now it does look as if the UK market has become too crowded. Some pundits are wondering this morning whether Wealthsimple was getting distracted by the Canadian market.

Continue to the full article --> here


NCFA Jan 2018 resize - Wealthsimple exits UK market (for now) - Too many investment apps in the UK? The National Crowdfunding & Fintech Association (NCFA Canada) is a financial innovation ecosystem that provides education, market intelligence, industry stewardship, networking and funding opportunities and services to thousands of community members and works closely with industry, government, partners and affiliates to create a vibrant and innovative fintech and funding industry in Canada. Decentralized and distributed, NCFA is engaged with global stakeholders and helps incubate projects and investment in fintech, alternative finance, crowdfunding, peer-to-peer finance, payments, digital assets and tokens, blockchain, cryptocurrency, regtech, and insurtech sectors. Join Canada's Fintech & Funding Community today FREE! Or become a contributing member and get perks. For more information, please visit: www.ncfacanada.org

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Over 400 SEC new enforcements in 2021 including Crypto, Dark Web, DeFi targets

Crowdfund Insider | | Nov 19, 2021

SEC enforcement - Over 400 SEC new enforcements in 2021 including Crypto, Dark Web, DeFi targetsA review of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) enforcement actions in this fiscal year show a growing threat posed by cryptocurrency and decentralized finance (DeFi) scammers. The year ended Sept. 30.

The SEC filed 434 new enforcement actions in FY2021, and that is a seven per cent increase over FY2020.

Overall, 697 total enforcement actions were filed, including 120 against issuers for delinquent filing and 143 “follow-on” proceedings that sought bars against people for criminal convictions, civil injunctions, or other malfeasances.

Orders for almost $2,4 billion in disgorgement fees and more than $1.4 billion in penalties, the latter a 33 per cent increase, were obtained. A total of $564 million was awarded to whistleblowers.

See:  Hester Peirce Says SEC Enforcement is Not the Way to Provide Crypto Clarity

Among the highlights the agency cited were charging Poloniex for operating a digital asset exchange and the BitConnect platform and some top executives in an alleged $2 billion cryptocurrency scam.

They also entered into new areas like SPACs, highlighted by an action against the Stable Road Acquisition Company which alleged, among other things, a former CEO tried to obtain shares worth around $200 million.

More new territory was explored as the SEC charged individuals in decentralized finance. In August, they hit Blockchain Credit Partners with charges they offered unregistered securities which raised more than $30 million.

Then the SEC ventured in the murky areas of the dark web by charging James Roland Jones of Redondo Beach, Cal. With selling “insider tips” on the dark web. To access the dark web and obtain insider information for his own activities, Jones allegedly lied about having non-public information to exchange.

See:  U.S. State Department offers $10M to hunt Darkside cyber group

Also in the crosshairs was regulation crowdfunding. On Sept. 20 the SEC charged a trio with concocting a fraudulent plan to sell almost $2 million of unregistered securities via a pair of crowdfunding offerings.

Electronic traders were also caught. On June 29 the SEC announced Neovest, a provider of order and execution management software for electronic trading, agreed to pay $2.75 million for failing to register as a broker-dealer. It was the first such charge by the agency against an OEMS provider.

Prior to being acquired by JPMorgan Chase, Neovest engaged in order routing through its registered broker-dealer, Neovest Trading Inc.  The order found that although Neovest withdrew its broker-dealer registration after it was acquired, it continued to operate the OEMS as an unregistered broker-dealer by, among other things, participating in the order-taking and order-routing process and soliciting customers and destination brokers through the firm’s website and direct outreach at industry conferences and trade shows.

See:  Crypto fraud and breaches on pace to exceed $3 billion in 2021

“Neovest played a role in determining the routing options that were available to its customers by entering into agreements with the destination brokers,” the SEC said in a statement at the time.

Continue to the full article --> here


NCFA Jan 2018 resize - Over 400 SEC new enforcements in 2021 including Crypto, Dark Web, DeFi targets The National Crowdfunding & Fintech Association (NCFA Canada) is a financial innovation ecosystem that provides education, market intelligence, industry stewardship, networking and funding opportunities and services to thousands of community members and works closely with industry, government, partners and affiliates to create a vibrant and innovative fintech and funding industry in Canada. Decentralized and distributed, NCFA is engaged with global stakeholders and helps incubate projects and investment in fintech, alternative finance, crowdfunding, peer-to-peer finance, payments, digital assets and tokens, blockchain, cryptocurrency, regtech, and insurtech sectors. Join Canada's Fintech & Funding Community today FREE! Or become a contributing member and get perks. For more information, please visit: www.ncfacanada.org

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UK Law Commission confirms Smart contracts are legally sound

UK Law Society | Michael Cross | Nov 25, 2021

Smart contracts - UK Law Commission confirms Smart contracts are legally soundThe existing law of England and Wales is able to accommodate and apply to self-executing 'smart' legal contracts without the need for statutory law reform, the Law Commission reports today. In a conclusion likely to be welcomed by the government, it suggests that 'an incremental development of the common law is all that is required to facilitate the use of smart legal contracts within the existing legal framework'.

A smart legal contract is a legally binding contract in which some or all of the contractual obligations are defined in and/or performed automatically by a computer program. They are usually secured by blockchain encryption.

The commission’s findings generally echo the conclusions reached by the UK Jurisdiction Taskforce, chaired by the master of the rolls.

See:  Will the Law Keep Up with Smart Contracts in 2021?

In its report, the commission encourages the market to anticipate and cater for potential uncertainties in the legal treatment of smart legal contracts by encouraging parties to include express terms aimed at addressing them. Examples of such provisions include clauses allocating risk in relation to the performance of the code, and setting out clearly the relationship between any natural language and coded components.

Professor Sarah Green, Law Commissioner for the commercial and common law team, said: 'Smart legal contracts could revolutionise the way we do business, particularly by increasing efficiency and transparency in transactions.

'We have concluded that the current legal framework is clearly able to facilitate and support the use of smart legal contracts; an important step in ensuring increased recognition and facilitation of these agreements.

Continue to the full article --> here


NCFA Jan 2018 resize - UK Law Commission confirms Smart contracts are legally sound The National Crowdfunding & Fintech Association (NCFA Canada) is a financial innovation ecosystem that provides education, market intelligence, industry stewardship, networking and funding opportunities and services to thousands of community members and works closely with industry, government, partners and affiliates to create a vibrant and innovative fintech and funding industry in Canada. Decentralized and distributed, NCFA is engaged with global stakeholders and helps incubate projects and investment in fintech, alternative finance, crowdfunding, peer-to-peer finance, payments, digital assets and tokens, blockchain, cryptocurrency, regtech, and insurtech sectors. Join Canada's Fintech & Funding Community today FREE! Or become a contributing member and get perks. For more information, please visit: www.ncfacanada.org

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Current cyber insurance model is broken and ripe for data-driven change

InsurTech Insights | Dec 5, 2021

insurtech digital and data driven - Current cyber insurance model is broken and ripe for data-driven change

As the cyber risk environment evolves from occasional data theft to rampant extortion, cybersecurity experts believe that the current cyber insurance model – where policies are easily accessible – is ripe for a change.

This comes as several insurance providers have decreased coverage and pushed up rates in recent years as a surge in ransomware attacks have left them smarting from hefty payouts.

See:  Here is why InsurTech is heating up as an investment category

One of these insurers, Lloyd’s of London, which accounts for almost a fifth of the global cyber insurance market, has reportedly discouraged its syndicate from taking cyber business next year, according to Reuters.

“Cyber insurance was only ever meant to be for a novel, an unforeseen catastrophic event,” Jess Burn, senior analyst at advisory firm Forrester, told SC Magazine. “When things like ransomware were limited to someone’s grandmother on their old PC, that was a license to print money. But now that music has absolutely stopped and they’re reeling from those losses.”

Data from market intelligence firm S&P Global has shown that the loss ratio from cyber insurance has risen in recent years. From 43 cent for every dollar in 2016, the figure has jumped to 73 cents per dollar in 2020.

Industry insiders that SC Magazine interviewed said that the cybersecurity sector responded by “trying to consolidate data aggregation to create a more sustainable industry.” This led to the formation of CyberAccuView, a data-sharing service aimed at creating a more standard practice.

See:  Synthetic Media and Deepfakes: An insurance industry threat

However, the experts still predict that policies will be dependent on “higher base security standards offering lower maximum payouts.”

They added that “a new breed” of fintech firms that are placing emphasis on data-driven security policies, including the use of network monitoring software, can help create a sustainable model for cyber insurance.

“We see a positive trend in the cyber insurance market where organisations embrace the risk assessment process required by insurers as an opportunity to justify and accelerate cybersecurity initiatives,” Chris Reese, head of insurance at Cowbell Cyber, told SC Magazine. “Many businesses welcome the resources provided by cyber insurance providers to help them achieve insurability.”

Continue to the full article --> here


NCFA Jan 2018 resize - Current cyber insurance model is broken and ripe for data-driven change The National Crowdfunding & Fintech Association (NCFA Canada) is a financial innovation ecosystem that provides education, market intelligence, industry stewardship, networking and funding opportunities and services to thousands of community members and works closely with industry, government, partners and affiliates to create a vibrant and innovative fintech and funding industry in Canada. Decentralized and distributed, NCFA is engaged with global stakeholders and helps incubate projects and investment in fintech, alternative finance, crowdfunding, peer-to-peer finance, payments, digital assets and tokens, blockchain, cryptocurrency, regtech, and insurtech sectors. Join Canada's Fintech & Funding Community today FREE! Or become a contributing member and get perks. For more information, please visit: www.ncfacanada.org

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