WO2000065517A1 - Commercial transaction method - Google Patents

Commercial transaction method Download PDF

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Publication number
WO2000065517A1
WO2000065517A1 PCT/US2000/006488 US0006488W WO0065517A1 WO 2000065517 A1 WO2000065517 A1 WO 2000065517A1 US 0006488 W US0006488 W US 0006488W WO 0065517 A1 WO0065517 A1 WO 0065517A1
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WO
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Patent type
Prior art keywords
account
consumer
purchase
payment
seller
Prior art date
Application number
PCT/US2000/006488
Other languages
French (fr)
Inventor
Eli E. Hertz
Original Assignee
Hertz Eli E
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date

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Classifications

    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06QDATA PROCESSING SYSTEMS OR METHODS, SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES; SYSTEMS OR METHODS SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • G06Q30/00Commerce, e.g. shopping or e-commerce
    • G06Q30/06Buying, selling or leasing transactions
    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06QDATA PROCESSING SYSTEMS OR METHODS, SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES; SYSTEMS OR METHODS SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • G06Q20/00Payment architectures, schemes or protocols
    • G06Q20/22Payment schemes or models
    • G06Q20/227Payment schemes or models characterized in that multiple accounts are available to the payer
    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06QDATA PROCESSING SYSTEMS OR METHODS, SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES; SYSTEMS OR METHODS SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • G06Q20/00Payment architectures, schemes or protocols
    • G06Q20/38Payment protocols; Details thereof
    • G06Q20/40Authorisation, e.g. identification of payer or payee, verification of customer or shop credentials; Review and approval of payers, e.g. check credit lines or negative lists
    • G06Q20/405Establishing or using transaction specific rules

Abstract

A commercial transaction method, useful for anonymous and group electronic commercial transactions, includes establishing an optionally anonymous user payment account at an account manager; transmitting an optionally anonymous purchase request to a seller; the seller transmitting a payment request to the account manager or its agent; upon approval of the purchase, the account manager or agent transmitting payment or credit approval to the seller; and the seller transferring the product to the consumer, optionally via a third-party delivery location under an anonymous delivery code. The method also includes the use of anonymous accounts for wireless or wired telecommunications services providers and Internet access Services Providers (ISP). The user payment account can be divided into sub-account for use by authorized alternative users, each sub-account can include usage restrictions. Authority to create sub-accounts and usage restrictions therefore can be delegated to alternate authorized users. Notification or confirmation requests can be sent to the primary account owner or authorized alternate users for monitoring and security purposes.

Description

COMMERCIAL TRANSACTION METHOD Field of the Invention The invention relates to the field of commercial transaction services, and in particular, to electronic commercial transactions.

Background and Summary of the Invention The invention comprises a novel commercial transaction method, especially useful for electronic commercial transactions made, for example, over the Internet, whereby payment for goods or services (including in-kind goods and services) offered by a seller or sellers is ultimately made by, or from, an account owned by the consumer (also known as the primary account owner, or simply the account owner), which account is held or managed by an account manager or its agent. The account can be subdivided for use by authorized alternative users, and usage restrictions can be placed on the account or sub-accounts (i.e. personal accounts) on an individual basis. In addition, the transaction can be completed without disclosing the identity of the consumer to the seller or to the delivery location of the goods purchased, thus mamtaining the anonymity of the consumer, if desired.

The account owned by the consumer can be a debit or a credit account, or any other type of similar account and can be used to make purchases from a plurality of sellers. In the case of a debit account, the account is created by an initial transfer of funds from the consumer to the account manager, or an agent thereof (e.g., a bank or a retail establishment acting as a seller of the services of the account manager). The term account manager is intended herein to include agents of the account manager, including but not limited to sales agents and financial services agents.

Upon initiation of the account, the account manager (or its agent) provides or validates an account number and one or more passwords to the consumer, which then becomes the primary account owner. Optionally, the account owner may also receive a physical card (or gift certificate, or the like) containing the account information and/or password/s.

As this method is especially useful for electronic commerce transactions conducted over the Internet, preferably all or many of the steps of the method can be accomplished from a user terminal connected to the Internet. The account owner can provide identification information to the account manager; however, this information is not required. Therefore, the account user can purchase products efficiently and conveniently via the Internet from any number of sellers while remaining anonymous.

The method provides that, after the account is initialized, the account owner can designate alternate users of the account (e.g., household members or employees). Preferably, each authorized alternate user is provided with a unique user identification and password/s. Novel usage restrictions can be established, independently, for the account owner and each of the authorized alternate users. The usage restrictions of the present method allow significant control over the purchasing activities of the account user(s) and allow substantially more control than previously known account restrictions, such as the parental controls currently offered by, for example, Internet content providers. The usage restrictions also serve to rmnirnize or eliminate fraudulent purchases.

The method provides for anonymous transactions whereby the seller of the goods and services does not need to know the identity of the consumer. To consummate a transaction, the consumer merely provides the seller with account information, including account number and/or authorized alternate user identification, and password. Upon receipt of such information, the seller only needs to confirm with the account manager or its clearing agent (e.g., bank) that sufficient funds or credit is available in the account, and arrange for transfer of such funds, or payment to an account of the seller. Therefore, the seller need not know the true identity of the consumer. To further provide for anonymous transactions, a third-party delivery location can be selected by the account owner and/or any of the authorized alternate users, to receive deliveries of physical goods. Upon consummation of a transaction designating shipment to a third-party delivery location, the seller sends the goods to the selected location using an anonymous recipient code or codes to designate the consumer as the authorized recipient. To take possession of physical goods, the consumer need only provide the recipient code or codes to the third-party delivery location (e.g., by swiping the account card through a reader), and then preferably provide the receipt password.

Detailed Description of the Invention The present invention, which is especially useful for electronic commercial transactions over the Internet, comprises a system where payment for goods or services offered by a seller or sellers is made ultimately from an account set-up and owned by the consumer, which account is held and/or managed by an account manager or its agent. Transactions can be completed without disclosing the identity of the consumer to the seller or to the delivery location, thus maintaining the anonymity of the consumer, if desired. In addition, accounts or sub-accounts can be created with individual use restrictions for authorized alternative users of the account.

The account can be a debit account or a credit account, or any other type of similar account. Payment is effectuated through the account manager or its agent (e.g., a bank), which, in the case of a debit account, transfers funds from the account of the consumer to the seller, or, in the case of a line of credit, makes the payment on behalf of the consumer to the appropriate seller.

In the case of a debit account, the account is created by an initial transfer of funds by the consumer to the account manager, or an agent thereof (e.g., a retail establishment acting as a seller of the services of the account manager), and may be replenished by subsequent transfers. Upon initiation of any type of account, the account manager (or agent) provides or validates an account number and one or more passwords to the account owner. Optionally, the account owner may also receive a physical card (or gift certificate, or the like) containing account information and/or a password. For example, the account information can be located on a magnetic strip suitable for use in card readers, or under one or more removable "scratch-off1 layers or a combination of like methods. The account may include an expiration date, after which time the account owner forfeits funds, if any, in the account.

Preferably, the account number is of a format which is compatible with current credit card (and debit card) transaction processing systems such that the present method can be implemented with little or no modification to such systems. To provide for enhanced security and privacy, the account number (and password, if any) can be changed by the primary account owner, user(s) and/or account manager. It is intended that such changes can be implemented at any time.

As this method is especially useful for electronic commerce transactions conducted over the Internet, preferably all or many of the steps of the method can be accomplished from a user terminal connected to the Internet. For example, the account can be created, initialized and modified by accessing the Internet site of the account manager, funds can be transferred to estabUsh (or replenish) the account by accessing the Internet site of the account owner's banking institution and requesting an electronic transfer of funds, and transactions can be consummated through Internet sites of sellers. Thus, it can be appreciated that the account can be used to make purchases from a plurality of sellers.

Optionally, the account owner can provide identification information to the account manager, such as the account owner's name, address, telephone number, etc. However, this information is not required. Therefore, the account owner may remain anonymous with respect to the account manager, if desired. If personal identification information is transmitted over the Internet, it is preferably done in a secure manner such that only the account manager knows the true identity of the account owner.

The account information and/or password can be re-assigned and/or provided to the account owner, in the event that the account owner forgets or loses such information. However, preferably this can only be done if the account owner previously provided verifiable personal identification information to the account manager at the time of account initialization, which can be then used for verification. Otherwise, the funds in the account, if any, are inaccessible and forfeited.

The method provides that, after the account is initialized, the primary account owner can create sub-accounts associated with the initial account and designate authorized alternate users or consumers (e.g., household members or employees) to be associated with the sub-accounts. As above, the identity of the alternate users can be withheld from the account manager, if anonymity is desired. Preferably, each alternate consumer is provided with a unique user identification and password associated with the sub-account, which the account owner provides to the authorized alternate users. The sub-accounts are subordinate to the initial primary account and purchases made under the sub- accounts are associated, i.e. ultimately charged to, the initial primary account. In addition, the account users can preferably check the account balance when desired.

Usage restrictions can be established, independently, for any account owner and each of the authorized alternate users. Examples of such usage restrictions include the types of products/services which may be purchased, the vendors from which purchases can be made, the maximum dollar amounts of such purchases (optionally, maximum amount of a single purchase, in total or per day, etc.), and the dates and/or times at which purchases can be made. Additionally, the method provides that the account owner can request notification (e.g., by electronic mail) of any transaction, or attempted transaction made through the account.

Also, the primary account owner can delegate authority to create and modify the above types of accounts and usage restrictions to any one of the authorized alternate users. Such authority can be limited to creating accounts subordinate to the delegate's sub-account. In this manner, purchases made under sub-accounts created by the delegate will be associated with (i.e., charged to) the sub-account of the delegate, which charges are then associated with the initial account of the primary owner. It can be appreciated that, if such authority is delegated, a sophisticated hierarchical organization of the account owner, users and sub-users can result. Individualized account cards can be issued for each authorized alternative user.

The method also provides for anonymous transactions whereby the seller of the goods and services does not need to know the identity of the consumer. To consummate a transaction, the consumer merely provides the seller with account information, (e.g. same or similar to a credit card account information) including account number and/or authorized alternate user identification, and/or password. Upon receipt of such information, the seller only needs to confirm or be informed by the account manager or its agent (e.g. bank) that sufficient funds or credit is available in the account and arrange for or authorize the transfer of such funds, or other payment to an account of the seller. Thus, the seller need only know that credit or funds are available to consummate the purchase. Therefore, the seller need not know the true identity of the consumer.

In addition, the account manager need not know the detailed description of the purchase made by the consumer. For example, the confirmation request sent by the seller to the account manager can include merely the identity of the seller, the account number (and optionally the password) of the consumer, and the amount of the purchase. Provided no appropriate usage restrictions established for the account prohibit such a blind confirmation, the account manager can provide an approval or denial based solely on the amount of the purchase and the account information without knowing the description of the purchase. Therefore, the account manager need not know the description of the purchase made by the consumer.

The method provides that, if the seller requires identification information, the consumer can provide the seller with substitute identification information (i.e., a borrowed identity) provided to consumer by the account manager. For example, the consumer can provide the seller with the name provided and authorized by of the account manager, or can enter the account number of the consumer in Heu of the actual given name and/or surname of the consumer. In addition, the consumer can give the seller the postal and electronic mail addresses of or at the account manager. If a substitute mail address (either postal or electronic) is given to the seller, this substitute address is preferably an address owned, managed or supervised by the account manager and associated with the consumer. In the case of electronic mail, the account manager preferably provides the consumer with the ability to access and read electronic mail sent to the substitute address. Alternatively, messages sent to the substitute address (postal or electronic) may be automatically forwarded to a different address provided by the consumer.

To further provide for anonymous transactions, a third-party delivery location can be selected by the account owner and/or any of the authorized alternate users, to receive deliveries of physical goods. According to the method, the consumer can either pre-select a third-party delivery location from a group offered by the account manager, or can select a location from a group offered by the seller (or account manager) at the time of purchase. Upon consummation of a transaction designating shipment to a third-party delivery location, the seller sends the goods to the selected location using an anonymous recipient code or codes to designate the consumer as the authorized recipient. The recipient code can be designated by the account manager, the consumer or the seller, and can be the same or different from the account/user identification. A receipt password may also be designated or selected in the same manner.

To take possession of physical goods from the third-party delivery location, the consumer provides a purported recipient code or codes to the third- party delivery location (e.g., by swiping the account card through a reader), and then preferably provides a purported receipt password. The purported code and/or password are then compared to the actual code and password. This information may then be transmitted to the account manager or seller for confirmation, if so designed, which replies with an authorization or denial of the release of the goods to the consumer. Alternatively, the actual recipient code and password can be transmitted to the delivery location (or agent thereof) prior to or at the time of confirmation. Thus, the third-party delivery location need not know the true identity of the recipient.

If anonymity of the recipient at the physical delivery location is not required or requested by the consumer, the account manager can provide the delivery location with the true identity (i.e., name) of the recipient corresponding to the delivery sent from the seller under the delivery code, if such information has been given to the account manager. In this manner, standard identification (e.g., a driver's license) can be used to take delivery of goods.

Delivery of digital products (e.g., text, image, video, and/or sound data) over the Internet can be effectuated anonymously with the above method since the seller of such digital product need only know the Internet Protocol (IP) address assigned by the consumer's Internet service provider (ISP), and need not know the consumer's true identity. Further anonymity is provided by the fact that, typically, the IP address given to the consumer is assigned (somewhat randomly) each time the consumer connects to the ISP, because typically the IP address assigned is chosen randomly from a large group of IP addresses used by the ISP. Therefore, the IP address of the consumer can (and usually does) change with each session (i.e., it is a dynamic IP address). However, the ISP may have or require personal identification information of the consumer.

If anonymity with respect to the ISP is also required, a separate, anonymous Internet access debit or credit account, similar to the above anonymous commercial transaction debit account can be established with the ISP. Alternatively, the account manager can provide anonymous Internet access services in addition to anonymous commercial transaction services. If the account manager also acts as an ISP, the same or separate accounts can be used for Internet access charges (if any) and commercial transactions fund transfers. Additionally, as with restrictions on commercial transactions, the account owner can establish restrictions on Internet access (e.g., duration, time, sites) for each authorized alternative user.

If anonymity with respect to a communication services provider (i.e., telephone company, or cellular, satellite, infra-red, radio or other wireless communication services provider) is required, then a similar anonymous communication debit or credit account is established as above. For complete anonymity, a wireless connection (e.g., cellular or satellite service) may be used to eliminate identification by location. In addition, the wireless communication device would be registered anonymously with the account manager, through an anonymous pre-paid account or a line of credit provided by the account manager or its agent as described above.

In addition, each consumer can request and receive notification (e.g., by electronic mail) of all payments requests communicated to the account manager from a seller. The account manager can withhold approval and/or payment of such purchase requests pending verification by the consumer, and can refuse such approval if a confirmation is not received within a predetermined period of time. In this manner, fraudulent purchase requests can be minimized or eliminated. The method provides a manner in which consumers can purchase products efficiently and conveniently via the Internet from an ever growing number of sellers while remaining anonymous with respect to some or all of the parties involved. Moreover, the method provides an efficient way to structure and manage such purchase made by an organization or group.

It should be understood, of course, that the specific form of the invention herein illustrated and described is intended to be representative only, as certain changes may be made therein without departing from the clear teachings of the disclosure. For example, that account manager can collect a fee from the consumers and/or sellers for some or all of the above steps of the present method. Accordingly, reference should be made to the following appended claims in determining the full scope of the invention.

Claims

I claim:
1. A method of facilitating an anonymous commercial transaction, comprising: establishing a user payment account at an account manager or an agent thereof, said payment account having an account number; a seller receiving a request of a purchase of a product from a consumer, said purchase request including said account number and not including a true identity of said consumer; transmitting a transaction request from said seller to said account manager or said agent of said account manager, said transaction request including said account number and an amount of said payment; upon approval of said transaction request, transmitting a payment, or an acknowledgment of approval of credit, from said account manager or said agent to said seller, said payment or credit acknowledgment not including said true identity of said consumer; said seller, upon receiving confirmation of said payment or credit acknowledgment from said account manager or said agent of said account manager, transferring said product to said consumer; whereby said consumer can remain anonymous with respect to said seller.
2. The method of claim 1, wherein said step of transferring said purchase to said consumer further comprises: selecting a delivery location for said purchase; selecting an actual delivery code for said purchase, said actual delivery code not including said true identity of said consumer; delivering said product to said delivery location, said product being associated with said actual delivery code; said delivery location receiving a purported delivery code from said consumer; comparing said purported delivery code to said actual delivery code associated with said purchase; and refusing the release of said product to said consumer if said purported delivery code does not match said actual delivery code associated with said purchase; whereby said consumer can remain anonymous with respect to said delivery location.
3. The method of claim 2, wherein the step of transferring said purchase to said consumer further comprises: selecting an actual delivery password for said purchase; receiving a purported password from said consumer; comparing said purported delivery password to said actual password selected for said purchase; and refusing the release of said product to said consumer if said purported password does not match said actual password selected for said purchase; whereby the requirement of a password provides an additional means by which to confirm that the person requesting release of the purchase is the rightful recipient.
4. The method of claim 3, wherein said step of establishing a user payment account further comprises: said user payment account being a debit account; said consumer transferring an anonymous payment to said account manager or said agent, said anonymous payment being associated with said payment account; and said consumer not providing said true identity to said account manager; whereby said consumer can remain anonymous with respect to said seller and said account manager.
5. The method of claim 4, wherein said commercial transaction is an electronic commercial transaction conducted substantially over the Internet, and wherein said step of a seller receiving a purchase request from a consumer further comprises: establishing an anonymous account with a telecommunications services provider; establishing an anonymous account with an Internet access services provider; transmitting said purchase request via said anonymous telecommunications services account and said anonymous Internet access services account; whereby said consumer can purchase products efficiently and conveniently via the Internet from any number of sellers while remaining anonymous with respect to said telecommunication services provider, said Internet access services provider, said account manager, said seller, and said delivery location.
6. The method of claim 5, further comprising accessing said telecommunications services provider via a wireless telecommunication device, said wireless communication device being registered with any type of wireless communications services provider under an anonymous account.
7. The method of claim 1, wherein the step of transmitting a payment request further comprises not transmitting a description of said product to said account manager.
8. The method of claim 1, further comprising: said account manager transmitting a confirmation request to said consumer of said purchase request received from said seller; and refusing payment to said seller if a confirmation is not received from said consumer within a predetermined period of time.
9. The method of claim 1, wherein the step of said seller receiving a purchase request from said consumer further comprises said consumer providing said seller with substitute identification information, which substitute identification information identifies said account manager or said agent thereof, whereby if said seller requires the input of consumer identification information, said consumer can complete said transaction without revealing said true identity of said consumer.
10. The method of claim 1, wherein said step of establishing a user payment account further comprises: purchasing a user identification number and code/s or card from an agent or retail location of said account manager; and contacting said account manager using said identification number to initiate said payment account.
11. A method of managing commercial transactions for a plurahty of consumers, comprising: estabhshing a user payment account at an account manager or agent thereof, said payment account having an account number and being the property of an owner; said account manager or said agent providing said owner with an account number and a password; estabhshing a sub-account associated with said payment account, said sub-account being associated with one of said plurahty of consumers, and said sub-account having a unique identifier; estabhshing usage restrictions for said sub-account associated with said one consumer; said one consumer transmitting a request of a purchase of a product to a seller, said purchase request including said unique identifier of said sub- account associated with said one consumer; transmitting a payment request or a credit acknowledgment request from said seller to said account manager or said agent, said payment or credit acknowledgment request including said unique identifier of said sub-account associated with said one consumer, and including said purchase request; said account manager or said agent comparing said payment request against said usage restrictions associated with said one consumer's sub-account, and refusing said purchase request if said purchase does not comply with said usage restrictions; in the event that said purchase request is not refused, transmitting a payment or an acknowledgment of credit from said account manager or said agent to said seller, and said seller transferring said product to said consumer; and associating said payment with said sub-account of said one consumer and with said account of said owner.
12. The method of claim 11, wherein said steps of estabhsbing a sub-account associated with said payment account and of establishing usage restrictions for said sub-account further comprises delegating the authority to create sub- accounts and usage restrictions therefore to a delegate consumer.
13. The method of claim 11, wherein payments associated with said sub- account created by said delegate consumer is associated with said sub-account of said delegate consumer.
14. The method of claim 12, wherein said step of delegating authority further comprises delegating only the authority to create sub-accounts which are subordinate to a sub-account of said delegate consumer.
15. The method of claim 11 wherein said step of said one consumer transmitting a purchase request to a seller further comprises said purchase request not including a true identity of said consumer and wherein said step of transmitting a payment or acknowledgment of credit to said seller further comprises said payment or acknowledgment not including said true identity of said consumer.
16. The method of claim 15, further comprising transferring said purchase to said consumer, including: selecting a delivery location for said purchase; selecting an actual delivery code for said purchase, said actual dehvery code not including an identity of said consumer; delivering said product to said dehvery location, said product being associated with said actual dehvery code; said dehvery location receiving a purported dehvery code from said consumer; comparing said purported dehvery code to said actual dehvery code associated with said purchase; and refusing the release of said product to said consumer if said purported dehvery code does not match said actual dehvery code associated with said purchase; whereby said consumer can remain anonymous with respect to said delivery location.
17. The method of claim 16, further comprising: selecting an actual dehvery password for said purchase; receiving a purported password from said consumer; comparing said purported delivery password to said actual password selected for said purchase; and refusing the release of said product to said consumer if said purported password does not match said actual password selected for said purchase; whereby the requirement of a password provides an additional means by which to confirm that the person requesting release of the purchase is the rightful recipient.
18. The method of claim 17, wherein said step of estabhshing a user payment account at an account manager further comprises, said user payment account being a debit account; said consumer transferring an anonymous payment to said account manager, said anonymous payment being associated with said payment account; and said consumer not providing personal identification information to said account manager; whereby said consumer can remain anonymous with respect to said seller and said account manager.
PCT/US2000/006488 1999-04-27 2000-03-10 Commercial transaction method WO2000065517A1 (en)

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Cited By (22)

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WO2001035355A1 (en) * 1999-11-09 2001-05-17 First Data Resources Systems and methods for anonymous payment transactions
WO2001082183A2 (en) * 2000-04-20 2001-11-01 Wildseed Limited Masking private billing data by assigning other billing data to use in commerce with businesses
US7698217B1 (en) 2000-04-20 2010-04-13 Christopher Phillips Masking private billing data by assigning other billing data to use in commerce with businesses
WO2001082183A3 (en) * 2000-04-20 2003-01-03 Wildseed Ltd Masking private billing data by assigning other billing data to use in commerce with businesses
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