Stablecoins: the Future of Money

Stablecoins: the Future of Money           –              Blake Lovewell

In this article, I tackle the concept of stablecoins. They are a financial innovation borne of the cryptocurrency revolution. They are a token made with the aim of remaining ‘stable’ with reference to a real-world asset like a dollar or a gram of gold. In this way they act like a currency – a medium of exchange and a store of value – but do so using the innovations of blockchain technology.

I argue here that this novel financial technology is being researched and re-shaped by the most powerful actors in the financial space. For these big players, who would never allow a new financial technology to go free without submitting to their control, Stablecoins can offer huge benefits. It is an ongoing process of development, starting less than ten years ago. But we are on the forefront of huge change to our financial system.

I hold that the form of stablecoins will be mirrored in the incipient Central Bank Digital Currency structure. Therefore it is urgent that we, the general public can get our head around these innovations and wrest back some control over our economic liberty – before it is too late. This article is a primer on Stablecoins, and a call to any who can comprehend to cling to the cypherpunk ambition of decentralisation and the manifestation of true freedom of transaction and freedom of speech. If the totalitarian system of digital currency is acquiesced to by the public, it will be hard to re-gain the freedoms we lose.

Before we get ahead of ourselves, we must start with the basics. Whilst stablecoins are becoming the playthings of money’s movers and shakers the average person is none the wiser. As the aphorism goes, ‘Knowledge is Power’. So let me share some knowledge and research, that you too will have the chance to seize your own measure of power in the financial maelstrom.

What is a Stablecoin?

A Stablecoin is a digital token, which can be sent from person to person, which aims to hold a value that is pegged to a real-world asset. The most famous Stablecoins in the cryptocurrency sphere are Tether (USDT), Circle (USDC) and DAI. These stablecoins are useful for traders who wish to hold value in an asset pegged to the US Dollar. One unit of Tether, should always be of equal value to one US dollar –  theoretically at least. Crypto traders who make their profits from the rapid booms and busts of crypto tokens, take refuge in stablecoins to calcify their profits into a stable currency. Crucially stablecoins are fairly un-regulated at the moment so crypto traders can escape the overbearing regulation of ‘off-ramping’ and exiting the crypto sphere into the mainstream banking system. A trader can easily swap their stablecoin back into a new gamble on a dog-themed cryptocurrency and turn their profit back to a dollar-pegged token, without having to let the IRS know at the end of the year. Though this is likely to change, it is currently the common conception of stablecoins held by cryptocurrency users.

But the stablecoin framework is not just limited to cryptocurrency. The concept has quickly caught on. Many big banks and corporations, who have been mulling the blockchain revolution these last few years, have settled on the stablecoin formula for their own technologies.  In a globalised banking system, with value transferring across the globe electronically – stablecoins are a panacea. They offer the flexibility in their creation for an institution to create the token they wish, with the ‘tokenomics’ or rules that it should follow. They can then use this token to do international arbitrages, to trade with, to settle debts or contracts and so forth, but in a way that is much quicker and in-house.JP Morgan already uses its own take on a stablecoin to settleover $1 billion trades between its many international tentacles each year. It does so without having to take that value out into the wider economy, allowing much greater control than the traditional banking system.

Why should I care? I hear the regular reader say. Yes, you may not have heard of stablecoins – and no I’m not trying to sell you them. It is my firm belief, and one which I will elucidate, that Stablecoins will be the form of currencies in the future. I see this on a timescale of the next decade. The impact of Bitcoin and blockchain technologies has only just begun to be digested and big institutions are slow to move, but when they move, their ripples are seismic. And as we all, no matter how off-grid, have to live on the same economic landscape, then I believe it is pertinent to be aware of the forthcoming Tsunami.

Before getting too lofty with my predictions, however, I know it would be instrumental for our understanding to delve into the concepts, theories and examples of Stablecoins. I hope it is digestible and can make the concept a little more clear – such that you can recognise the signs of stablecoins as they begin to imprint into the global economy.

Four Conceptions of Stablecoins

A stablecoin is a novel invention. The first stablecoin was called BitUSD, created in 2014. Whilst that particular project has faded into ignominy, the industry is booming, worth millions more dollars every day. As to what a stablecoin is, we can use various descriptions:

  • A Stablecoin is a contract
  • A Stablecoin is a 3rd tier casino chip
  • A Stablecoin is a tokenised debt
  • Stablecoins are a model for CBDCs

All of the above are true to some degree: interpretation is in the eye of the beholder. By breaking each down we will be able to bring together the many threads and generate a wider understanding of stablecoins. Whilst each is valid, feel free to jump to the one which catches your eye first.

  • A Stablecoin is a contract

A Stablecoin is a contract. The contract maker – usually a large bank-like corporation – offers a stablecoin token at the 1 : 1 price of an underlying asset. For example, Tether offer 1 USDT for the price of $1. If you later wish to cash in your USDT, you theoretically can do so. Though in practice, most Tether users trade their USDT for crypto assets. Tether make use of Ethereum’s smart contract facility to maintain their peg to the US Dollar. To ensure that 1 USDT is always worth 1 USD  their Ethereum smart contract automatically mints a USDT when someone invests a Dollar, and burns one when someone divests their Dollar.

The concept of ‘smart contracts’ is a vital innovation central to stablecoins. A smart contract is a self-executing piece of code. When one or more parameters are fulfilled, it automatically activates and fulfils the contract. This could mean automatic payment or distribution of funds when a certain action is detected for example. One useful metaphor, described by crypto-innovater Nick Szabo is of smart-contracts as digital vending machines. When you put in a valid 100 Yen coin, a bottle of Pocari Sweat is dispensed. It doesn’t require a shopkeeper – or in finance terms: a settlement layer. By layering up these smart contracts, financial boffins can conjure up some complex tricks, whilst also getting rid of middlemen which is why they are so attractive to those who make their living by ruling financial systems.

It is not only the central-controllers of the world that can take advantage of smart-contracts though. Whilst Tether back their tokens with US Dollar equivalents, other stablecoins use other methods. DAI, for example, is an algorithmic stablecoin. It balances a basket of cryptocurrencies through complex algorithms – which allow a similar function to Tether; the minting or burning of tokens to maintain a peg to a stable value. However, DAI is controlled by a Decentralised Autonomous Organisation (DAO) made up of thousands of members (akin to anonymous shareholders). MakerDAO is the digital group which agrees as a whole on how to regulate DAI. This makes it a more decentralised stablecoin, compared to Tether which is a private company with a few fat cats at the top. A decentralised stablecoin has the benefit of less control from a central authority, thus is more egalitarian, however it is vulnerable to attack too. DAI currently have to back their $1 stablecoin with $1.50 of assets in case of an attack on the price of DAI. We won’t go too deep into the long grass on DAI but it is certainly an interesting concept.

One other stablecoin of note is Paxos Gold. It is a gold-backed stablecoin. 1 PAXG = 1g of Gold bullion. It is one way in which it has been attempted to tie-in a gold standard with crypto. I wouldn’t go as far as to claim that there is a gold standard in crypto. PAXG has a smaller market cap than other stablecoins, but the concept is there and functions well. Paxos maintain a Swiss vault, and hold the equivalent bullion for those who have purchased PAXG tokens. Perth Mint in Australia offers a similar token: PMGT. Interestingly, you can redeem your token directly for the gold, and take it into self-custody. This means is is a gold-backed currency, something that has not been seen for a while. The last person who tried to institute a gold-backed currency was Muammar Gadaffi with a gold backed African Dinar – and that didn’t end well for him, or for Libya. Yet PAXG continues unfettered by regime change for the time being. It is one interesting way to maintain the value of one’s investment, without tying it to the US dollar, which is unfortunately the world’s reserve currency.

  • A Stablecoin is a 3rd-tier casino chip

I will begin this section with a quote from the illuminative book ‘Cloud-money’ by Brett Scott. I highly recommend this book for those seeking insight into modern monetary history as well as the formation of cryptocurrency. He uses the metaphor of casino chips:

“Imagine yourself walking into a casino and handing over your cash for chips that can be used inside the casino. While you’re in the building the casino is not looking after ‘your cash’. It has taken ownership of it. All you own is the chips it has issued to you. There are thus two forms of money in the casino…

“Normal casino chips are physical, but imagine now that a casino ran a system of digital chips. Imagine that, rather than handing out physical chips when you gave them cash, they opened an account for you in their computer and credited that account with digital units that can be used at the various tables. All you now own is an address on their database, with credits attributed to it…

“The units we see in our bank account are just ‘digital chips’ issued out by banks, in much the same way that casinos issue me chips when I hand over cash… the digital chips in our bank account are IOUs written out in digital form, promising to pay out state money in the future”.

So we have 1st tier casino chips: State issued currency. They take gold, assets and the threat of military violence and issue a currency, like the US Dollar. If you want to interact with the USA you must use their chips.

We then have 2nd tier chips, those casino chips from the metaphor. These are issued by commercial banks, such as your typical high-street bank. They have the authority of the state central bank to issue bank money into bank accounts. That bank money can be redeemed for state money.

Stablecoins are a 3rd tier chip. They are an abstraction of 2nd tier chips. From our earlier example, the USDT token that Tether issues out relies on a bank money deposit into one of Tether’s bank accounts. In 2017 they used a Wells Fargo bank account located in Taiwan to back the issuance of USDT. For each USDT they issued, they had to have held one dollar in their bank account. Since then, regulators have pushed them out and Tether have had to diversify their assets. Here it is worth mentioning the tribulations of the world’s biggest stablecoin.

In 2017 following a failed investment by some of the owners of Tether corporation, these owners withdrew dollars from Tether’s bank accounts. This lead many to suspect that Tether was then un-backed. As there was very little clear reportage on Tethers accounts, it was hard for people to verify that they had the 2nd tier chips to back their token. This accusation has been levelled a number of times and Tether has fended off criticism without having to do a full audit. Nowadays they do self-publish an audit, which is updated daily on their website. But this only goes so far to appease the general conception that Tether, whilst rampantly successful, is rather fishy behind closed doors.

 Another useful 3rd tier chip example we have is Paypal. To quote Scott again:

“’Dollars’ in your Paypal account are third-tier chips that promise you second-tier bank chips, that promise you first-tier US government dollars issued by the Fed.”

Paypal have, as of 2023 moved their private 3rd tier chip game into the stablecoin sphere, they launched a tokenised dollar stablecoin called PYUSD. 10 months later, it has a market capitalisation of over $400million.

The Inverted Pyramid of Money. From real resources at the foot, to abstract mediums of exchange at the top.

I like the metaphor of casino chips. It illustrates that even the basest level of currency is reliant on big organisations loaning out IOUs. We, the people, depend on these IOUs to interact, to survive, but ultimately, ‘the house always wins’ and the issuer of currency is best placed to control those further downstream of the money-issuance spigot. Fiat currency is a casino chip based on fractional reserve banking. 1 US dollar is backed by a small fraction of a Dollar in gold (since the Fed hasn’t been audited nobody knows how small of a fraction that is). Bank money is an abstraction of that untrustworthy base layer – the state allows a bank to issue millions of bank pounds, yen or dollars without any backing asset, just the promise to the state that they will loan it responsibly. Most people don’t realise the sleight of hand of money in their bank account as it has the same name as the base-layer currency. We then have the precariously placed 3rd-tier chips, stablecoins, atop this inverted pyramid of legitimacy; issuing IOUs for IOUs for IOUs. At this point, the modern economy is debt all the way down.

  • A Stablecoin is tokenised debt

A token is the name for a unit of a blockchain based currency or asset. A bored-ape NFT is at its core a token ascribing the ownership of a formation of pixels. Tokens are the form of most assets on blockchains as in computing lingo a token is a transferable section of code which can be embedded into a wider codebase. As aforementioned, the modern financial system is debt all the way down. But the question for legacy institutions is how to adapt the old system of paper promissory notes and contracts to the new digital age. Whilst tokenisation emerged from the cypherpunk anti-central-state and anti-central-bank ideology it has since been absorbed into the amorphous institutional banking sector.

When the Bank for International Settlements (The Swiss gang in charge of the world’s central banks) launches programs like PROMISSA to bring stablecoins into the realm of international settlement, we must take notice. That program intends to roll out, by 2025, a stablecoin based system of settlement between banks and institutions – putting a form of stablecoin as the middleman for value transfer between big players. Thus eroding the old system of paper and email transfer and replacing it with a digital ledger. The BIS will be in charge of this ledger and promise to : “provide a single source of truth for all counterparties”. I do caution the reader that the BIS does not act in the common good – they enable a large amount of the activity that I view as inhumane done by central banks, namely devaluing currency by inflation and trapping humans in debt spirals. If this century old Swiss banking institution were to be the single source of truth then we as a species have a new godhead to turn to.

On tokenisation, the larger than life leader of the BIS Agustín Carstens has this to say:

“A two-tier monetary system – similar to the one we have today – will be another important building block. Central bank money will represent the first tier, and commercial bank money the second.

“Settlement on the central bank balance sheet is the ultimate guarantee of finality in financial transactions. As such, wholesale tokenised central bank money is a necessary foundation piece. It will play a similar role to reserves in today’s financial system, but offer enhanced functionality. Some central banks may also consider issuing retail tokenised central bank money – a digital equivalent to banknotes – to provide even more choice to consumers. I would emphasise, however, that traditional payment methods, including notes and coins, would remain available for those who wanted to use them.”

Notice firstly that Carstens agrees with arch-critic Brett Scott’s analysis of the tiered system of money, central banks (which he in part controls) as first tier and then bank money as 2nd tier. He then goes on to tell us that the tokenisation effect has crept down from the layer of crypto-bro and speculative investor into the halls of power. He signals to us that central banks around the world are preparing to adopt tokenisation of currencies writ large. This is much more of an innovation than a cursory glance at an analysis of stablecoins would usually furnish. Carstens basically tells us that in the “financial system for the future” that central bank money (1st tier chips) will be tokenised, and thus take a similar form to stablecoins. This is one reason I believe a deep-dive into stablecoins is not only pertinent but vital.

  • Stablecoins are a model for CBDCs

Earlier in his speech Carstens tells us that: “We have a once in a lifetime opportunity to revisit the architecture of the financial system.” Now this is typical globalist-speak, that you may hear at many conferences around the world. However, Carstens and the few who control the BIS, sit atop the pyramid of financial power. They view the global financial system as under their purview and control. It is theirs to fiddle with, to administer laws for and to benefit from. Remember that the BIS, and central banks are not overtly state-run institutions. The Federal Reserve is a private institution, the Bank of England too, they pay some measure of fealty to governments but are by no means in the hands of the people. Thus the “we” who are re-building the architecture of the entire world economy are not we, the people.

I want to highlight one final part of his speech. In doing so I reference the concept of CBDCs: Central Bank Digital Currencies. They have been the subject of other articles of mine. I am cautionary of their acceptance by the general public, as they offer much greater levels of control for the state and financial institutions, but very little benefit over existing monetary systems such as cash. We may have noticed Carstens’ nod towards cash: “notes and coins, for those who wanted to use them”. Almost a throwaway comment, a scrap to appease the conspiracy theorists who document the reality of the veiled war on cash. But the real meat on the bone may have slipped by un-noticed. He told us that “central banks may also consider using retail tokenised central bank money”. Sure, they might consider that – in fact many have already created programs to such an end. I argue, that a bank ‘token’ is very similar to the casino chip metaphor we used earlier. It then folds in their favourite new concept of tokenisation – putting on a blockchain – and there we have it: a Central Bank Digital Currency. It may be that the nomenclature is shifting as there has been lots of negative press for CBDCs. Many criticise the inherent lack of privacy, the loss of fungibility (if the money can be turned off then does it retain value?) as well as the opportunities for abuse of power by the state. Carstens does not use the acronym CBDC but to me, it is a case of the devil by any other name. We must remain vigilant to retain our financial liberty, and the slippery tongues of the powerful are wily. So, I hope that with this work, we can notice when projects like a retail tokenised central bank money is introduced, and give it a fair and reasonable critique.

Prospects for Stablecoin regulation

Now that we hopefully have an understanding of what a stablecoin is, as well as how it is already being used, we can look at trends moving forwards. In my opinion, the biggest catalyst or restriction to the growth of stablecoin adoption is regulation. We have already seen how the Swiss BIS, which sits atop the pyramid of financial control, are drawing in lessons from stablecoins at a fast clip. But as the Dollar is the world’s reserve currency, it is US regulation that will play the most important role in the short term.

The US government is supportive of stablecoins. This can be proven through various means: the use of US Treasury Bills as collateral, the granting of money transmitter licenses as well as proposed pro-stablecoin legislation.

The first point here is the prevalent use of US T-bills to back stablecoins. T-Bills, or US Treasury bills, are bonds made by the United States Treasury. They are a contract sold by the US which will be re-paid at the end of their term, they offer a percentage of interest as a return for someone’s investment in the bill. For example, today, the US 10-year T-Bill will return you 4.452% interest in 10 years. Technically T-Bills are a debt, the USA is creating an IOU each time it issues one, yet in practice they are often rolled-over, or reinvested, rather than cashed in. The 10-year T-Bill is a commonly referenced metric for economic performance, but T-Bills are available for 5-years, 1-Year and even down to 1-day timespans. 

 T-Bills are the base layer of the global economy. Nation states around the world buy and hold US Treasury notes as an asset on their balance sheet. Because the USA is the world hegemon (at least for now), their treasury notes are the most valuable, and hold that value over time. You may remember the crisis in the UK gilt market in 2023 as investors lost faith in UK Treasury notes. Historically these notes were bought and held by nation states and big bank institutions, but in the last few years, they have become the base collateral for stablecoins too. If a stablecoin issues dollar tokens and holds T-Bills as the collateral, the stablecoin issuer can collect the juicy interest returns on the T-Bills. The USA also has a new market for its treasuries.

This new market for treasuries is vital for the USA. In the last few years too, they have been ramping up economic sanctions on various nations around the world. This has many deleterious effects on the USA, such as restricting the flow of goods and services. It also has the effect of diminishing the global market for US debt (T-Bills). Why would China want to hold US debt instruments if the US is posturing towards making war against China in Taiwan, and refusing to buy their electronics. As such China is slowly reducing its US Treasury holdings. Similarly, Russia witnessed their ability to access and redeem T-Bills being cut off in 2022. This signalled to the rest of the world that the USA would nullify it’s debt held by other states if they irked the hegemon. However, it has lead some to question if their bond holdings are safe in US T-Bills if they can be cancelled at any time. All of these factors and more have lead to an unwelcome situation fot he US Treasury on the world stage.

China’s declining holding of US treasuries. Image : Apollo

Enter Tether, and other stablecoin companies. They began using US Treasuries as their collateral a few years ago. It was easier for them to access 1-day T-Bills and keep renewing them each day to back the dollar-pegged-tokens that they were issuing, than it was to maintain a US Dollar bank account. Such has been the rise of stablecoins that Tether is now the 19th biggest holder of US Treasuries in the world. That’s more than Germany holds, or many other nations in the world. The fact that stablecoins are a burgeoning market for US Treasuries has not been lost on the power hungry political class in the USA. Paul Ryan, former speaker of the House of Representatives came out in the last week with an illuminating interview with Bloomberg:

“What could you do now, knowing that we have debt problems coming in the future?…  I think that Stablecoin legislation would be a good step in the right direction… Stablecoins which are Dollar backed, digital, private sector currencies. It’s not crypto [!] because it’s tethered to the US Dollar. They have to have dollar backed assets; they have to have treasuries, or cash to back these stablecoins. There’s not a law that governs these right now, so they aren’t really deployed. But if you actually have a law, which [Patrick] McHenry and Chair [Maxine] Waters … are putting a deal together. [Chuck] Schumer is talking to them, I think there’s a reasonable chance they can get a deal on stablecoin legislation. That means you have a legal framework to have stablecoins deployed. You’d go from haveing a couple-hundred billion dollars of stablecoins to, you know, maybe trillions. Right now stablecoins are the 16th biggest buyer of bonds, bills & notes among all sovereigns. If you actually regulate stablecoins, have them deployed that does two things: that gets the US Dollar deeply ingrained in the oncoming digitisation of currencies, that’s a good thing. And you create new consumer demand for our bonds – because they have to have those to back up the stablecoin.”

Wow, it sounds like stablecoins are the life raft for a debt-laden dollar. Paul Ryan, seems to think so, though he’s likely speaking from the script of his financial sponsors. Similarly, Maxine Waters and Patrick McHenry are putting forward a bi-partisan bill on stablecoins, that is almost ready to shoot and is likely is a shoe-in after the 2024 US elections. Despite the apparent partisanship on certain issues, the fast-tracking of stablecoin legislation is going ahead full-steam. Not only do they provide that vital back-stop in the Treasury market, as Ryan mentioned, stablecoins are a quick and easy way for the US to get full on board with the “oncoming digitisation of currency”. Now I don’t remember the public at large voting for the digitisation of currency, but the political class tells us it’s oncoming as if there’s nothing we can do to stop it, and perhaps there isn’t. If the political establishment in the USA embrace stablecoins, they will be able to let the private sector do the ugly job of issuing and managing currency, whilst the state can continue its addiction to money printing with a new sugar-daddy in the form of stablecoin issuers. ‘Let the ponzi continue’, cry the pigs around the trough.

Further to this cosy relationship with lobbyists and regulators – Tether is already in bed with intelligence agencies. It was revealed in December 2023 in a letter to the US Senate that Tether worked closely with the FBI and deigned to close accounts at the request of the FBI. At that point they had already blocked access to over $435 million in USDT tokens. Apparently these tokens were controlled by accounts related to the OFAC’s (Office of Foreign Assets and Controls) sanctions list. But all of this took place behind closed doors. For me this is an eerie preclusion of what could happen if central banks release their stablecoin cum CBDC on the world: accounts could be turned off, tokens could be locked for anybody who goes against the whim of the powerful. It is not clear that in the drafted legislation that there will be any protection for the general public from having its accounts seized, nor for re-defining the role of private financial institutions as foot soldiers for the state at large. I will leave you with the words of Tether’s CEO Paolo Ardoino:

“… [W]e are committed to continuing Tether’s close work with law enforcement in the U.S. and globally. Tether seeks to be a world class partner to the U.S. as we continue to assist law enforcement and expand dollar hegemony globally.”

Lastly here, I would like to make a distinction. Although Tether (USDT) is the worlds biggest stablecoin, it has come under fire from US regulators. This year at Davos, it was notable that Circle (USDC) had a large presence. They sponsored Financial Times conferences on how to wrestle crypto from the hands of speculative investors, and they sent a delegation of over 20 people to spread the good word of Circle. Simultaneously a UN report came out bashing Tether’s use in illicit activity. As Circle is already tied in with JP Morgan, Visa and other mega financial institutions – that seems to be the elite pick for stablecoins. This is one of the battlegrounds to watch for the future of stablecoins.

Throughout my research I came across one theme I just had to toss a rock at as I drove past. This is the theme of ‘financial inclusion’. Each time I found a new draconian product that, like Worldcoin, scans your irises to access tokens, or requires you to submit biometric information to open an account, it came in the wrapping of financial inclusion. Similarly, financial vultures use this language to ‘on-board’ those people on Earth who have still, by poverty or good fortune, managed to not have a bank account. These are tempting victims for the vampiric financial global institutions, more meat for the grinder. However they also provide a useful excuse for expanding financial control. Those poor unbanked farmers just need a little more financial inclusion, if only they used Mastercard for their grain sales instead of pesky cash or barter. Wouldn’t the world be a better place? I say no. I warn anyone reading this to take any claims towards ‘financial inclusion’ with a bucket of salt and a garland of Garlic. For each time you see those words, there is a wolfish grin coming from beneath the sheep’s white wool clothing. Stablecoins are not for much longer a tool for economic freedom, they are quickly being hoovered up by the conglomerate of heartless financial institutions as the next way to fleece the people of their hard-won productivity.


JP Morgan settle $1billion per year on their own stablecoin: JPMCoin

Tether’s use of Ethereum smart-contracts

Nick Szabo (1997) : The Idea of Smart Contracts (also archived @

MakerDAO’s website, the Decentralised Autonomous Organisaton behind stablecoin DAI

‘Cloud-money’ by Brett Scott

PYUSD over $400million market capitalisation

Bored Ape NFTs lose 90% in price

BIS: Project Promissa

BIS: Agustín Carstens Speech on “Finternet: the financial system for the future”

Blake Lovewell : The 7 Pillars of a CBDC System

Us Trasury bills reinvestment information

Apollo Academy Graph: Chinese holdings in US Treasuries

2022: Russia’s ability to redeem T-Bills closed off by US Treasury

Tether is the 19th biggest holder of T-Bills in the world, more than Germany

Bloomberg : Paul Ryan interview on stablecoins

Bi-Partisan bill in Congress for stablecoin legislation

Tether’s cosy relationship with the FBI

UN report bashing Tether’s use in illicit activity

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