Blockchain In Insurance: Exploratory Analysis Of Prospects And Threats

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(IJACSA) International Journal of Advanced Computer Science and Applications,Vol. 12, No. 1, 2021Blockchain in Insurance: Exploratory Analysis ofProspects and ThreatsAnokye Acheampong AMPONSAH1*Benjamin Asubam WEYORI3Professor Adebayo Felix ADEKOYA2Department of Computer Science and InformaticsUniversity of Energy and Natural ResourcesSunynai, Sunyani – GhanaAbstract—Ever since the first generation of blockchaintechnology became very successful and the FinTech enormouslybenefited from it with the advent of cryptocurrency, the secondand third generations championed by Ethereum andHyperledger have explored the extension of blockchain in otherdomains like IoT, supply chain management, healthcare,business, privacy, and data management. A field as huge as theinsurance industry has been underrepresented in literature.Therefore, this paper presents how investments in blockchaintechnology can profit the insurance industry. We discuss thebasics of blockchain technology, popular platforms in use today,and provide a simple theoretical explanation of the insurancesub-processes which blockchain can mutate positively. We alsodiscuss hurdles to be crossed to fully implement blockchainsolutions in the insurance domain.Keywords—Blockchainhyperledger; NEvolving technologies mostly help to change the drivingforces underlying economic, social, and businessdevelopments [1,2]. Blockchain was developed and introducedin 2008 by a researcher or a group whose identity hasremained anonymous even till now [3,4]. It was introduced asa financial application (Bitcoin), to facilitate peer-to-peerelectronic cash transfer without requiring a centralized trustedsystem and for the resolution and prevention of the doublepayment problem [3,5].In recent past years, Blockchain has ratcheted up andgained tremendous attention among the academic community[6], industry, and researchers demonstratively placing amongthe top five technology trends in 2018 [7,8]. According to [9],the output value of Bitcoin per day stands at 4.144 Million andthe estimated transaction value of transactions on theblockchain is 158.932k as of September 17, 2020. Blockchainis categorized into three generations. The first generation –blockchain 1.0 was introduced in 2009 and used hardcodedspecial-purpose systems to focus primarily on digital currencyand served potentially malicious public participants [3,10].Department of Computer Science and InformaticsUniversity of Energy and Natural ResourcesSunynai, Sunyani – GhanaThe second generation – Blockchain 2.0 commenced in 2014and emphasized innovative ways of applying Smart Contractsin diverse situations and domains, championed by Ethereum[11] offering user-defined digital assets and partly turingcomplete functionality [10]. Blockchain 3.0 begun in 2017with Hyperledger projects (Fabric, Composer, etc.) providingan all-purpose permissioned decentralized application system,mostly associated with user-friendly and highly configurablefeatures. The second generation of blockchain saw significantsystems being developed in logistics, certificates, and finance.Recently, the domain applications have expanded to includeeducation, health, agriculture, Internet of Things (IoT), andgovernance [12,13] Smart Grid, Intelligent TransportationSystem, Data Center Networking, Electronic Voting System,and more [14,15,16,17]. All three phases are complementaryand support one another to formulate the normality ofblockchain technology [18].According to [19,20], in case of an emergency, insuranceis one of the essential assistance accessible to populations toneutralize their costs and assist them. The greatest challengeof the sector is how to detect and protect against counterfeitdocuments and stop the intentions of phoney participants.Consistent with [21], the impact of Blockchain technology hasbeen seen by major insurers and reinsurers, where the majorityhave begun to invest in trial systems. A vivid example is theBlockchain Insurance Industry Initiative (B3i) launched in2016 to examine the potential of BC to improve successes indata exchange among insurance and reinsurance enterprises[22]. The insurance companies provide a source of funding forthe clients in a state of disaster and as a result, are engravedwith enormous paper works and inefficiencies [23]. In therecent past, most insurance companies adopted a centralizedarchitecture for system development as shown in Fig. 1a, andtherefore by using a decentralized blockchain as in Fig. 1b, theinsurance industry gets an exceptional chance to re-examineits complete value chain, which has continuously depended onutmost good faith and trust and develop novel insuranceproducts for their consumers [24].*Corresponding Author445 P a g ewww.ijacsa.thesai.org

(IJACSA) International Journal of Advanced Computer Science and Applications,Vol. 12, No. 1, 2021(a) Centralized System.(b) Distributed System.(c) Decentralized System.Fig. 1. Architecture of Existing Systems.II. CONTRIBUTION OF THE PAPERCurrently many researchers have worked on blockchain indifferent perspectives. As indicated in Tables III and IV inappendix, some authors provided a general understanding ofblockchain technology. The author in [10] used a meta surveyto provide a strong foundation for their future referencemodel. The author in [14] built on previous surveys andproduced a comprehensive importance of blockchaintechnology scoping the many different smart communitiessuch as transportation, healthcare, proof-of-work algorithm,smart grid, finance, voting system, data center networking,consensus protocols, and process models, and many more. Theauthor in [12] also provided a snapshot and proposedtaxonomy of blockchain applications. There are furthersurveys for example [25], [26], [27], [28], [29] but they are allgeared towards the financial aspects of blockchain and theunderlining privacy and security issues. Equally, severalsurveys exist with a particular focus on other domains. Forexample, [30] concentrate on blockchain application in theInternet of Things (IoT), [31] authentication and identitymanagement, [32,33] security and privacy, [34] SoftwareDefined Networks (SDN) and a lot more. Closely related tothis work as indicated in Table VI (in appendix) are [35], whopurposely studied the repercussion of adopting blockchaintechnology on the operations and regulations of insurancecompanies with limited depth, and [36], who explained howblockchain can be significant to the insurance sector with theaim of assisting insurance industry players and majorstakeholder to be aware of the applicability of blockchain inthe sector. Equally, several researchers have reviewedblockchain applications in the insurance sector with arelatively strong introduction and ideas. For instance, asshown in Table IV and Table V [14] surveyed numerousblockchain applications and explained insurance processingusing blockchain in the context of the financial sector. Also,[12] similarly acknowledged the application and acceptance ofblockchain in insurance and touched on the variousincomplete business processes that can be improved orreengineered. Other researchers also concentrated on otherpeculiar domains. Table VI consists of examples including[37], [2], and [38] with focus on Agric and Food SupplyChain, Business Models, and Construction Managementrespectively. It is evident that no comprehensive review hasbeen done in assessing the impact or potentiality blockchaintechnology in the insurance industry. It the light of [14, 12] itis believed that a field like the insurance must havecomprehensive and extensive representation in the literature interms of blockchain‘s implications. Therefore, in this work,we fill in the gab by zooming in to review the significantInsurance business processes and how they can be enhancedby utilizing blockchain technology. We subsequently presentmajor insurance sub-domains and how blockchain can be usedto create new services and products. We also provideopportunities and describe our future directions.The remainder of the paper is presented as follows. Wefirst discuss the fundamental concepts of blockchain focusingon features of blockchain, components of blockchain, types ofblockchain, and blockchain platforms in Section II. Also, themethodology applied to produce this work is described inSection III. We explain how we augmented systematic andgray literature methods to review the existing literature. Thereis a presentation of the major types of insurance and howblockchain can be leveraged in Section IV. Also, areas ininsurance where blockchain can change are also discussed inSection V. And lastly, we present the limitations of blockchaintechnology in Section VI.III. FUNDAMENTAL CONCEPTS OF BLOCKCHAINA. Blockchain TechnologyBlockchain technology is a publicly verifiable, shared,immutable distributed ledger used for recording the history oftransactions. As the name suggests, blockchain is a chain ofblocks that contains information inside a block, and eachblock is connected with a hash of its previous and subsequentblocks to create a chain. Blockchain technology consists ofnodes where each node maintains its local copy of the chainand is connected with peer to peer connections. Every blockcontains a header, an ID of the previous and next blocks, atimestamp, and a series of transactions. As a decentralizedtechnology, blockchain (BC) enables completely newtechnological systems and business models [39]. BC typicallycombines previous technologies like digital signature,cryptographic hash, and distributed consensus mechanism[40].Blockchain is the underlying digital foundation thatsupports applications such as bitcoin. The technologyenhances the process of storing transactions and tracing assetsin a cooperate network. Assets can be physical such as ahouse, car, phone, etc. and virtual like money, titles, bonds,equities, contracts, deeds, and virtually all other kind of assetsthat can be transferred from a peer to peer and stored securely,446 P a g ewww.ijacsa.thesai.org

(IJACSA) International Journal of Advanced Computer Science and Applications,Vol. 12, No. 1, 2021privately, requiring no need for a third-party confirmation.This is so because trust is enforced and the confirmation isdone by cryptography, network consensus mechanism, smartcode, and collaboration without requiring controllingmediators like governments and banks [41]. Blockchain canbe talked of in tandem with other similar algorithms likeclustering and complex systems as they can all be describedand examined based on the science of data structure serving asthe basic building block of present algorithms where nodes areused for data packets and data stores, communicating with oneanother in consonance with agreed methods of nodescommunication [42]. In BC, a transaction is requested whichis broadcasted to the peer-to-peer network. Upon validationand verification, the transaction becomes complete when it isadded to existing blocks on the blockchain. This is indicatedin Fig. 2.B. Features of BlockchainBlockchain inherently provides the following features. Immutability and Security: Immutability makesblockchain a secure and transparent approach to storingand processing data among nodes in the blockchainsystems using cryptographic functions [43]. Immutabletransactions are sheltered from unauthorizedamendments from mischievous users. Participants cancreate fresh transactions, but cannot remove or editprevious ones, facilitating that all nodes can keep trackof all transaction history [44]. Once data is written andstored in the ledger, it can never be changed [45]. If anerror exists in a transaction, a different transaction hasto be created and the two are available. The distributedledger diminishes the reliance on a trusted central partyand the risk of a single source of a system failure ordata manipulation as all nodes have the full informationfor authentication, verification, and validation [44]. Transparency: By using a consensus mechanism,validation and acceptance rules are enforced in theblockchain network where any party after satisfying theprotocols in the blockchain can apparently and publiclyinitiate and add transactions. The consensus, validation,and acceptance rules in blockchain guarantee trustamong participants in the network since all transactionsare endorsed by their prospective generators and once ablock is accepted, miner nodes broadcast the block toall other nodes in the network [45]. In this case and thecase of a public blockchain, all transactions are madeavailable to all participating nodes while in a privateblockchain all data are accessible to authorized nodes. Verifiability: The cryptography and consensusmechanism make the transactions implemented andmanaged in blockchain technology verifiable by bothoutsiders and insiders. So, for a transaction to be valid,at least fifty percent plus one participant must agree onits validity. Authenticity: Using smart contracts in blockchainapplications offers the legitimacy of transactions. Also,the transaction in blockchain naturally contains thedigital signature of the creator and responder and everyblock also consists of previous and subsequent hashedIDs. Accountability and Ownership: The immutability oftransactions in the block, the connection among blocks,and the originators‘ endorsement could enableownership control as well as accountability inapplications powered by blockchain. Also, participantsknow the provenance of a block or transaction.Fig. 2. Graphical view of how Blockchain Works. Source: Edureka.447 P a g ewww.ijacsa.thesai.org

(IJACSA) International Journal of Advanced Computer Science and Applications,Vol. 12, No. 1, 2021C. Components of Blockchain1) Assets: An Asset is a thing of value to an organizationand by definition, it enables the transfer of nearly everythingwith economic worth over a blockchain network. Dependingon the blockchain system, an asset may be intangible –currency, shares, patents, certificates, personal data, ortangible like food and beverage in a restaurant, properties inreal estate, or any other tangible or intangible items. Unliketraditional -assets such as Apple Stock where the right ofownership is paper-based, blockchain asset is purely digitalsolely owned by the participant and does not require a thirdparty agent or agency in the case of transfer or sale.2) Transactions: A transaction in blockchain refers totypical time-stamped events that happen to create blocks in theledger. Transactions are stored using private or public keysgiving the participants the option to be unidentified, however,identities can be accessed and verified by third parties. Trustand harmonization in the system are ensured as alltransactions and other data are transparently certified beforebeing joined in the ledger using Merkle tree presented byRalph Merkle in Fig. 3 [46]. Merkle tree is a complete binarytree structure that aids in the verification and assurance ofconsistency of data [46] thereby helping to haste securityauthentication in big data systems. Each parent node hashesthe value from its corresponding child node.3) Consensus algorithm: In decentralized or distributedsystems, a consensus algorithm helps in decision-making [47].The consensus algorithm is an administrative process in ablockchain network where the majority of the distrustfulparticipants agree upon what rules are used and the decisionthat is good for them all. The features of the blockchainconsensus algorithm include assuring quorum structure,integrity, decentralized governance, authentication, nonrepudiation, performance, and byzantine fault tolerance [47].The decision affects whether a block will be appended to thechain or discarded. The consensus algorithm fulfils its aim byreaching an agreement, supporting collaboration and cooperation, ensuring equal rights and recognition, and alsoactive participation by members. The following are examplesof blockchain consensus algorithm. Proof-of-Work, Proof-ofStake, Delegated Proof-of-Stake, Leased Proof-Of-Stake,Proof of Elapsed Time, Practical Byzantine Fault Tolerance,Simplified Byzantine Fault Tolerance, Delegated ByzantineFault Tolerance, Directed Acyclic Graphs, Proof-of-Activity,Proof-of-Importance, Proof-of-Capacity, Proof-of-Burn, andProof-of-Weight. Reference can be made to [14] for a detailedexplanation of these algorithms.4) Cryptographic functions: Cryptographic Functions usecomplex mathematical computations to change the meaning ofinformation into a form that is rendered valueless in the wronghands. This component of blockchain allows potentiallymalicious members on a blockchain network to create andappend blocks on to the ―chain‖ and engage in securedoperations on a network. Every block of the blockchain holdsthe hash of the previous block which is stored with thetransaction data and timestamp. Unlike symmetric encryption,asymmetric (public-key) cryptography employs a public keythat is willingly shared for encryption and then a private keyfor decryption. Hashing is also used to secure the operationsof blockchain. Before a transaction is created, data from theprevious block is hashed and stored. The transaction creator‘spublic key is hashed and used to create a transaction identityand the address of the transaction [48, 49, 14]. Examples ofhash functions are SHA-256, Ethash, SCrypt, RIPEMD-160,and One-Time Signature, X11, Equihash, Elliptic CurveDigital Signature Algorithm, Edwards-curve Digital SignatureAlgorithm (EdDSA), Ring, Borromean Ring Signatures andMulti-Signature [14].Fig. 3. Block Illustration in Blockchain using Merkel Tree.448 P a g ewww.ijacsa.thesai.org

(IJACSA) International Journal of Advanced Computer Science and Applications,Vol. 12, No. 1, 20215) Distributed ledger: A ledger is very crucial in businessenvironments as it contains all transactional records for onlineand offline operations, users, and their credentials. In a normalbusiness computing environment, a ledger is centralized.However in blockchain, the ledger is decentralized at the core,and depending on the type of blockchain, it is made availableto some authorized participants (private) or all participants(public). Distributed ledger together with other characteristicsof BC enforces auditability, security, transparency, andaccountability.D. Types of Blockchain1) Public blockchain: Public blockchain uses proof ofstake or proof of work to validate transactions before they areadded to the block and the chain. This is done in apermissionless manner by allowing everyone to participate inthe consensus process. All participants in public blockchainaccess, read, write, and transact on the network [50,51]. It isdecentralized and has no reliance on a sole trusted entity fornetwork control and administration. A public blockchain isprotected by verification via cryptography where miners areincentivized. Transactions are consolidated and circulated byminers who can be anyone on the blockchain [50, 51]. Publicblockchain uses computing resources and brute forcemechanisms to verify transactions because no member on theblockchain is trustworthy and as a result, the miner whofinally gets the correct results is given a reward. The mostpopular public blockchain is Bitcoin and Ethereum [50, 51).TABLE I.2) Private blockchain: A private blockchain ispermissioned blockchain where access control mechanismsare used to restrict network members from accessing parts ofthe blockchain. This enforces reliant on a centralized controlsystem and permits only a few participants of the blockchainnetwork to write to the blockchain. This type of blockchain isusually useful in the financial sector particularly because itcomplies with know-your-customer (KYC), anti-moneylaundering (AML), and Health Insurance Portability andAccountability Act (HIPAA) laws and regulations [51,50].Hyperledger projects (Fabric, Iroha, Sawtooth, etc.) under theLinux Foundation are examples of the private blockchain.3) Consortium blockchain: A consortium blockchain ispermissioned and semi-decentralized type of blockchain.Unlike a public blockchain, a consortium blockchain requirespermission to join, and also network control andadministration power are given to a few sets of known nodes.Public participants may be given limited access to the ledgerthrough API and may query the ledger in minimal ways.Consortium blockchain maintains the intrinsic securitycharacteristics of public blockchain but also allows for a betterlevel of regulation over the network. Examples of suchplatforms are R3, Quorum, Corda [52,50].E. Blockchain PlatformsThe following section discusses some popular blockchainplatforms. This is summarized in Table I.POPULAR BLOCKCHAIN SYSTEMSPlatformYearLaunchedIndustry focusLedger TypeConsensusAlgorithmSmart ustryPermissionedPluggableFrameworkYesLinux Proof of WorkYesEthereumDevelopersHyperledger workYesLinux FoundationR3 meworkYesR3 rity VotingNoEthereumDevelopers and JPMorgan ChaseHyperledger meworkYesLinux FoundationHyperledger ntine FaultTolerantYesLinux FoundationOpenChain2015Digital oinPrismStellar2014FinancialServicesBoth Public & PrivateStellar ConsensusProtocolYesStellar sionlessDelegated Proof ofStakeYesDynamic LedgerSolutions449 P a g ewww.ijacsa.thesai.org

(IJACSA) International Journal of Advanced Computer Science and Applications,Vol. 12, No. 1, 20211) Ethereum: Ethereum allows the blockchain communityand developers to create and install blockchain-relatedsystems. It is open-source and supports tokens,cryptocurrency, social apps, wallets and more to be deployedin the Ethereum Distributed Environment. Ethereum does notonly support financial applications but also has an architecturethat supports the application of distributed ledger technologyin other fields. Ethereum supports several networks likeCommunity Test Network, Community Ethereum Network,and other private BC networks.The components of Ethereum comprises of Smart contracts are used to control all the events inEthereum, written in Solidity programming language. Ether is the pillar of Ethereum transactions andcryptocurrency of the Ethereum network. Ethereum Clients develop and mine Ethereumblockchain. Examples are Geth, Eth, and Pyethapp. Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) is the blockchainengine behind Ethereum within which smart contractsrun. EVM runs its language of bytecode which hasnecessitated the development of numerous smartcontracts writing languages like Solidity. Etherscripter is a graphical user interface used to buildsmart contracts in Ethereum. In a few and simple steps,the drag and drop mechanism allows the automaticgeneration of backend codes in LLL, Serpent, andXML.2) Hyperledger: Hyperledger is a worldwide partnership,accommodated by The Linux Foundation, and involvesfrontrunners in banking, finance, supply chains, Internet ofThings, Technology, and manufacturing. Hyperledger is anopen-source motivated by a community centered on mountinga collection of reliable bases, libraries, and tools for thedevelopment and deployment of enterprise-grade blockchainsystems. More blockchain frameworks have been undertakenby Linux Foundation under the Hyperledger project includingFabric, Caliper, Sawtooth, Aries, Besu, Burrow, Cello,Composer, Explorer, Grid, Indy, Iroha, Quilt, and Ursa. Partof these frameworks is P permissioned (private) and others arepermissionless (public) [53].3) Corda: Corda was launched by R3 as an open-sourceblockchain platform in 2016 with provision from a strongcommunity of developers and organizations. Corda is ablockchain with one key differentiator. It is a privateblockchain platform that warrants the sharing of data amongknown participants. Corda was intended to ensure trust,transparency, security, and privacy.4) Quorum: Quorum is a platform for enterprises to useblockchain. It is an enhanced branch of the public Ethereumclient ‗geth‘ to provide for business essentials. Quorum is alsoan open-source project and supports the very requirements ofbusinesses – performance, privacy, and access control. Theenterprise application requirements which predominantlyinclude privacy, performance, and permissioning are allprovided by Quorum augmenting them with the secrecy of alltransactions, scalability, and speed, and ensures authorization.IV. METHODOLOGYWe employed a methodology used by [12] and [54] andfollowed some of the steps in PRISMA [55] to allow for theproduction of reproducibility, transparent, scientific work. Thefollowing subsections describe the employed methods indetail. The following research questions were asked before thecommencement of the literature search and the questiondetermined the usage of whether gray or systematic literaturereview.1) What are the major insurance sub domains that arecurrently draining the sector?2) What are the major business processes in insurance thatblockchain technology can mutate?3) What are the current developments of the application ofblockchain in the insurance sector?A. Locating Studies or Data ExtractionTo discover the latest papers for the resolution of theresearch questions, Mendeley Desktop and Google Scholarwere used as the main sources for the papers. The search wasdone with no restricted timeframe. However specific searchterms were used. For example, ―Blockchain in Insurance‖,―Blockchain Insurance‖, and ―Blockchain Application inInsurance‖ were used in April 2020. The process was repeatedin November 2020. The search term with the highest results is―Blockchain in insurance‖ and was used to query a total of578 papers.B. Data Screening and SelectionAs indicated in Table II, exclusion parameters wereimplemented before accessing the full papers. The types ofpapers that were included are peer-reviewed papers, bookchapters, conference proceedings papers, short surveys,review papers, serials, white papers, official websites, etc.Enormous papers that satisfied any of the exclusionparameters (subject area, document type restrictions, andlanguage) were excluded. Also, some papers were left outbecause of missing valuable information like authors‘ names,and abstracts. The search term fetched numerous articles but,most of them were rejected because their titles portrayed thatthey belonged to specific domains such as finance, legal,health, etc. All these were done without emphasizing authorspecific or journal-specific papers. Other papers wereexcluded because they were not found although they appearedin the search query. Some papers also duplicated multipletimes under different titles and were consequently excluded.C. Descriptive AnalysisA total of 578 papers were fetched from the search termand a majority of them were excluded using the specifiedparameters in Table II. From Fig. 5, 455 papers were excludedresulting in the importation of only 123 into the referencemanager. Out of the total number of excluded papers, ninepapers were rejected after the importation because theyappeared multiple times with different titles. Three papers450 P a g ewww.ijacsa.thesai.org

(IJACSA) International Journal of Advanced Computer Science and Applications,Vol. 12, No. 1, 2021were included because they provided a strong theoreticalfoundation of blockchain technology although their titles werenot in line with the thematic area. Twenty two papers wereexcluded because their contents were either unusable or not inline with the theme. Four papers were excluded by title butincluded by abstract and 15 papers could not be located byGoogle Scholar or regular Google search. Lastly, 12 paperswere written in different languages other than English andTABLE II.resulted in their exclusion. This resulted in the usage of 80papers in this review. For the sake of simplicity, only thethematic papers are described and are depicted graphically inFig. 4. In Fig. 4, it is observed that 6 papers in the area ofblockchain technology and insurance were each published in2016 and 2017. 21 papers were produced in 2018 and 27papers were published in 2019. Lastly, 20 papers werepublished in 2020.EXCLUSION AND INCLUSION PARAMETERSParameterSystematic ReviewInclusion Peer-reviewed papersBook chaptersConference proceedings papersShort surveysReview papersSerials etc.Grey LiteratureExclusion Subject area (other domain-specific papers)Language (Non-English)Missing authors‘ namesMissing abstractsUndiscoverable papersPapers with unusable contents Regular Google searchOfficial websitesFig. 4. Yearly Publication of Thematic Papers.451 P a g ewww.ijacsa.thesai.org

(IJACSA) International Journal of Advanced Computer Science and Applications,Vol. 12, No. 1, 2021Fig. 5. Graphical view of the Search Strategy.V. RESULTS AND DISCUSSIONA. Major Types of InsuranceAccording to [56], although contemporarily found withnumerous challenges, insurance is an avenue to providefinancial risk mitigation that pays the policyholder in case ofthe occurrence of an unforeseeable adverse event or loss ofproperty [57]. However, the industry is profoundly reliant onvarious processes between transacting parties to initiate,maintain, and close different classes of policies. Consequently,the processing time of transactions, settlement, and paymenttime of claims, and the security of the process execution aremajor concerns [58].Futuristically, several existing breakthroughs in computinglike Cloud Computing [18], Internet of Things (IoT) [59],Artificial Intelligence (AI), machine learning methods [60],and data analytics [61] will be joined and leveraged toautomate and drastically transform the manner

blockchain applications and explained insurance processing using blockchain in the context of the financial sector. Also, [12] similarly acknowledged the application and acceptance of blockchain in insurance and touched on the various incomplete business processes that can be improved or reengineered.

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