How Digital Makes Banks Flexible, Responsive And Intimate

While making digital the main channel of customer engagement, banks are also looking to move beyond business as usual, says Amit Anand, a Vice President in Cognizant Consulting’s Banking and Financial Services.

COVID-19 made online channels indispensable for bank customers, including those who preferred in-person banking. This accelerated their digital strategies and created an opportunity to go beyond the basics and become partners in their customers’ pursuit of financial wellness.

As banks bet big on digital, they are looking at technologies such as AI, advanced analytics, and automation to provide personalization, prediction and speed in creating powerful customer experiences. Banks are also increasingly relying on machines to automate repetitive tasks and make complex decisions, creating demand for human skillsets that complement intelligent machines.

Cognizant’s Center for the Future of Work (CFoW), working with Oxford Economics, recently surveyed 4,000 C-level executives globally, including 287 senior banking and financial services executives to understand how banks are adapting to fast and dramatic changes.

The earliest forms of digital banking trace back to the advent of ATMs and cards launched in the 1960s. As the internet emerged in the 1980s with early broadband, digital networks began to connect retailers with suppliers and consumers to develop needs for early online catalogues and inventory software systems.

By the 1990s the Internet became widely available and online banking started becoming the norm. The improvement of broadband and ecommerce systems in the early 2000s led to what resembled the modern digital banking world today. The proliferation of smartphones through the next decade opened the door for transactions on the go beyond ATM machines. Over 60% of consumers now use their smartphones as the preferred method for digital banking.

The challenge for banks is now to facilitate demands that connect vendors with money through channels determined by the consumer. This dynamic shapes the basis of customer satisfaction, which can be nurtured with Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software. Therefore, CRM must be integrated into a digital banking system, since it provides means for banks to directly communicate with their customers.

There is a demand for end-to-end consistency and for services, optimized on convenience and user experience. The market provides cross platform front ends, enabling purchase decisions based on available technology such as mobile devices, with a desktop or Smart TV at home. In order for banks to meet consumer demands, they need to keep focusing on improving digital technology that provides agility, scalability and efficiency.

Seven Ways to Capitalize on Digital

  1. Institute front-to-back digitization. Banks can effectively compete with fintech competitors by becoming digital institutions.
  2. Explore new customer segments and business paradigms. Digital makes it easier than ever for banks to explore small business segments, even as they pursue existing markets.
  3. Emphasize platform centricity and smart aggregation. Open banking standards can help banks to provide personalized products to customers in collaboration with third-party providers and fintechs.
  4. Invest in personalizing the customer relationship. Banks should use personalized experiences to make customers’ lives as frictionless as possible.
  5. Focus on re-building trust and resiliency. Banks need to eliminate any biases in decisions made by machines.
  6. Enshrine inclusivity into your digital strategy. Banks should use digital to reach customers who are left out by being physically and cognitively challenged.
  7. Balance machine-driven and human-centric work. Create sturdy human-machine collaboration by reevaluating jobs for a shared environment.

For more, read our paper “The Work Ahead in Banking: The Digital Road to Financial Wellness”.

Amit Anand is Vice President and North American Practice Leader for Cognizant Consulting’s Banking and Financial Services. Amit has 20 years of experience with firms such as Accenture, Infosys and Cognizant. He has successfully led and managed large business transformation, digital and IT transformation, and associated organizational change management for several financial services clients. Amit is a recognized thought leader with more than 15 publications on topics such as Open Banking, Digital 2.0 and new-age operating models. He can be reached at Amit.Anand@cognizant.com

Manish Bahl leads the Cognizant Center for the Future of Work in Asia-Pacific and the Middle East. A respected speaker and thinker, Manish has guided many Fortune 500 companies into the future of their business with his thought-provoking research and advisory skills. Within Cognizant’s Center for the Future of Work, he helps ensure that the unit’s original research and analysis jibes with emerging business-technology trends and dynamics in APAC, and collaborates with a wide range of leading thinkers to understand and predict how the future of work will take shape. He most recently served as Vice President, Country Manager with Forrester Research in India. He can be reached at Manish.Bahl@cognizant.com

Source: How Digital Makes Banks Flexible, Responsive And Intimate

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Forget Finance. Supply-Chain Management Is the Pandemic Era’s Must-Have MBA Degree

The just-in-time inventory systems embraced by many businesses led to empty shelves and costly bottlenecks. That’s put a rare spotlight on supply-chain programs, which are attracting more students.

Stores with no toilet paper. Colossal cargo ships run aground in the Suez Canal. Factory shutdowns in Vietnam. Ports closed in China. It almost seems that not a day goes by without reports of another supply-chain snafu wrought by the pandemic, which dismantled just-in-time inventory systems that couldn’t cope with massive, simultaneous disruptions of supply and demand.

Companies have struggled to adapt, with some taking unusual steps. Walmart Inc. and Home Depot Inc. are chartering their own private cargo vessels so they don’t get caught short as the holiday season approaches, and logistics experts say disruptions from congested ports won’t end anytime soon. The tumult has forced companies to lavish more attention on their supply-chain professionals, who typically toil in obscurity until disaster strikes.

It’s also prompted business schools to refresh their supply-chain curricula to make sure the next generation of logistics managers are prepared for future crises. “For years, we had sort of taken logistics for granted,” says Skrikant Datar, the dean of Harvard Business School. “The pandemic caused us to rethink it.”

The problem, says Hitendra Chaturvedi, a supply-chain management professor at Arizona State University’s W.P. Carey School of Business, was that supply-chain education and theories had grown as rigid as some of the practices out in the real world. “After years of teaching without any tremors,” he says, “our courses had become less flexible.”

In response to those tremors, business schools are now emphasizing things such as risk mitigation, data analytics, and production reshoring—while also carving out room to explore more intangible topics like ethics, communication, and sustainability.

Penn State’s Smeal College of Business is adding a master’s course in supply-chain risk management next year, with lessons taken straight from the pandemic experiences of corporate partners including Hershey Co. and Dell Technologies Inc. The course will count toward a new certificate program in risk management that’s also in the works.

The W.P. Carey School of Business also plans to offer a certificate in supply-chain resilience. “It’s not like we don’t cover risk already, but this would give them a deeper dive,” says Kevin Linderman, chair of Smeal’s Department of Supply Chain and Information Systems, which has grown more popular with students thanks to high-profile incidents such as the grounding of the Ever Given cargo ship in the Suez Canal in March, which snarled global commerce for nearly a week.

This academic year more than 400 juniors in Smeal’s undergrad program have declared their intent to major in supply-chain management, up from about 270 the previous year. Incoming business students who once defaulted to finance or marketing now want to explore supply-chain management, says Alok Baveja, a professor at Rutgers Business School, whose faculty includes former executives of nearby pharmaceutical giants such as Johnson & Johnson.

When they graduate, they’ll have plenty of options: A record 50 companies plan to attend a supply-chain career fair at Georgia Tech in September—about double the number that typically come to recruit students of the program—including newcomers Honda, Honeywell, and Procter & Gamble.

Students who pursue supply-chain degrees this fall are certain to get an earful about the limitations of just-in-time inventory systems, which grew in popularity during the 1990s as companies aimed to mimic the success of auto makers like Toyota Motor Corp., the gold standard of lean manufacturing. For some companies, though, getting lean “became a religion,” says Penn State’s Linderman, and their orthodoxy became their undoing when the pandemic hit and there was no surplus stock to be found.

Covid-19 exposed the weaknesses of legacy inventory systems, which typically emphasize cost reduction above all else, says Hyun-Soo Ahn, a professor at University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. The pendulum is now shifting the other way: At Walmart, whose bottom-line focus is legendary, U.S. inventory rose 20% last quarter as it doesn’t want product shortages come Christmastime. Still, shuttered factories, port congestion, and trucker shortages have brought more chaos to already overtaxed supply chains, raising prices on groceries and jeopardizing the delivery of millions of presents for the holidays.

Classroom discussions at Penn State and other supply-chain specialists will now delve into the downsides of sourcing too much from China or any single country, while they also explore the role that new technologies like machine learning and artificial intelligence can play in manufacturing and inventory decisions. Old research, meanwhile, is getting reinterpreted through the pandemic’s lens, says Gopalakrishnan Mohan, chair of ASU’s supply-chain department.

What’s also needed, though, is a realization in corporate C-suites that logistics isn’t just an expense—it can actually create value when done well, according to MIT’s Jarrod Goentzel. He’s the principal research scientist at the school’s Center for Transportation and Logistics, which works with corporations such as Amazon.com Inc. and Intel Corp. and also a lecturer in the center’s one-year master’s program in supply-chain management.

It helps that high-profile chief executive officers like Apple Inc.’s Tim Cook and Mary Barra of General Motors Co. spent time running complex supply chains before they got the top jobs, but logistics educators say greater boardroom acknowledgement of the make-or-break role such skills play is long overdue.

“Any company that says they fully understand their supply chain is lying,” says Goentzel, who believes that supply-chain practitioners should be certified just like accountants. “It’s time for the profession to wake up. The 20th century was about finance. The 21st century should be about supply chains.”

By: Matthew Boyle

Source: Business School: MBA Students Forgo Finance for Supply-Chain Management Degree – Bloomberg

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2 Specialty Retail Stocks To Add To Your Shopping List

2 Specialty Retail Stocks to Add to Your Shopping List

Let’s face it – retail is one of the most competitive industries out there. Consumer preferences are constantly changing and it takes a lot for these types of businesses to earn shoppers’ hard-earned cash. That’s one of the reasons why investing in specialty retail stocks can be a great long-term strategy if you choose wisely. Since specialty retailers focus on specific product categories, like office supplies, furniture, or men’s or women’s clothing, they are oftentimes able to carve out a unique niche and stand out among their competitors.

Thanks to all of the stimulus that has been added to the economy over the last year and the fact that a newly vaccinated population is getting back to shopping in person, we could see some strong sales coming out of the specialty retail space in the coming months. There are 2 specialty retail stocks that stand out as potential buys at this time given their unique brands and impressive earnings reports. Let’s take a further look at these intriguing stocks below.

RH (NYSE:RH)

RH, formerly known as Restoration Hardware, is a great specialty retail stock because it is doing something that is completely unique. While there are plenty of home furnishings stores out there, RH is distinctive in that it specializes in ultra-high-end luxury home goods and creating a unique shopping experience at every single store. Homeowners can find upscale products including furniture, lighting, bathware, outdoor & garden, tableware textiles, and décor at RH, and each one of the company’s showrooms offers an original and aesthetically pleasing experience.

The company counts Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway among its investors and is undoubtedly benefitting from a hot residential real estate market. With that said, RH has upside potential regardless of what’s going on in the economy, as the company doesn’t have exposure to seasonal inventory and caters to wealthy consumers that spend big year-round. The stock has been pulling back in recent months after a rally from $70 to $700 a share, but after the company’s latest earnings report it could be gearing up for more gains.

RH saw its Q1 revenues up 78% year-over-year to $860.8 million and delivered Q1 adjusted diluted earnings per share increase by 285% year-over-year to $4.89 per share. Other positives from the stellar report included an increased fiscal 2021 outlook and the fact that the company expects to be net debt-free by the end of the fiscal year. The bottom line here is that RH is a specialty retail company that is executing at a very high level, which is evident in both the earnings results and stock price.

Lovesac (NASDAQ:LOVE)

There’s a lot to love about this specialty retailer, which designs and manufactures modular couches and beanbags. What really stands out about Lovesac is how it has created a brand and product lines that have quickly become the favorite furniture of an entire generation. Millennials are among Lovesac’s most frequent customers, as they love the idea of the company’s flagship product, a unique modular furniture piece known as a “sactional”.

These are couches that are easily assembled and disassembled in order to meet the needs of the consumer. There are literally dozens of different ways that sactionals can be rearranged to fit in someone’s home, and the fact that customers can continue adding on pieces and accessories over time is perfect for creating repeat buyers.

While the company has 91 retail showrooms across the United States, investors should be impressed with the progress that it has made over the last year developing its digital sales channels. E-commerce sales were up over 250% in 2020 and although the company might not be able to keep up that torrid pace, Lovesac has proved it is more than capable of finding buyers online. Also, keep in mind that those showrooms are going to see foot traffic pick up as the pandemic winds down.

Lovesac just reported very strong Q1 2022 earnings results including net sales growth of 52.5% and diluted EPS of $0.13, up 122.1% year-over-year. Analysts also love the stock, as Lovesac recently got a price target increase from Craig Hallum on Thursday. Pandemic tailwinds are continuing to help this specialty retailer grow, and that narrative should remain in place for the foreseeable future. These are all great reasons why Lovesac is a great stock to consider adding to your shopping list.

By:

Source: 2 Specialty Retail Stocks to Add to Your Shopping List

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Critics:

A stock derivative is any financial instrument for which the underlying asset is the price of an equity. Futures and options are the main types of derivatives on stocks. The underlying security may be a stock index or an individual firm’s stock, e.g. single-stock futures.

Stock futures are contracts where the buyer is long, i.e., takes on the obligation to buy on the contract maturity date, and the seller is short, i.e., takes on the obligation to sell. Stock index futures are generally delivered by cash settlement.

A stock option is a class of option. Specifically, a call option is the right (not obligation) to buy stock in the future at a fixed price and a put option is the right (not obligation) to sell stock in the future at a fixed price. Thus, the value of a stock option changes in reaction to the underlying stock of which it is a derivative. The most popular method of valuing stock options is the Black–Scholes model. Apart from call options granted to employees, most stock options are transferable.

Stock price fluctuations

The price of a stock fluctuates fundamentally due to the theory of supply and demand. Like all commodities in the market, the price of a stock is sensitive to demand. However, there are many factors that influence the demand for a particular stock. The fields of fundamental analysis and technical analysis attempt to understand market conditions that lead to price changes, or even predict future price levels.

A recent study shows that customer satisfaction, as measured by the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), is significantly correlated to the market value of a stock.Stock price may be influenced by analysts’ business forecast for the company and outlooks for the company’s general market segment. Stocks can also fluctuate greatly due to pump and dump scams.

See also

The Unrealized Benefits of Supply Chain Serialization

Through the use of sophisticated enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, companies can view the aggregate shipping locations of each distributor, wholesaler, and in some cases large resellers. Most of the time, though, the tracking of products ends there.

By serializing products at the primary package, case and pallet levels, companies can capitalize on enormous opportunities to boost supply and demand management, reduce product loss, prevent counterfeiting, and enhance brand protection. 

Enabling the tracking of items down to the unit level, serialization results in simplified returns processing and recall management, more accurate demand management, and the opportunity for more advanced loyalty programs.

Serialization allows each partner in the supply chain to track product at every step, from point of manufacture to the moment it’s in the consumer’s hands. In addition, when the product is returned, the serial number can be used on all shipping documents to provide information on status and the reason for the return. The information can be of great value in determining whether the product has any quality problems.

With certain recalls, such as children’s products and food and beverage items, the consumer is highly motivated to enter specific serialized information on a website about the purchased product.

Imagine the benefits this would have provided during the romaine lettuce recalls that surfaced last year. Consumers could have determined whether the item was at risk simply by entering a serial number into a website. Stores could have understood which products were safe to keep on shelves, and which needed to be pulled. Manufacturers would have better understood where the contaminated products were shipped, and communicated directly with those specific locations.

With serialization, as each product is returned by consumers and members of the supply chain, easily read serial numbers on each level of packaging are communicated to the brand owner as the products are passed back up the supply chain. Today, products that aren’t serialized bog down the return process, lacking proper and timely information for consumers, supply-chain employees and company executives.

Serialization allows demand management to be optimized. As each product is shipped through the supply chain, the brand owner has access to a timely and accurate tracking history. Shortages can be detected, and replacements shipped, more quickly.

Imagine how useful this would be in the retail industry. Using the power of serialization, one can ensure that the right products are being ordered and available for customers, rather than having a moment of bare shelves and lost sales.

Likewise, disappointing sales in wholesale channels and retail outlets can be detected and handled very quickly. This increase in brand owners’ knowledge can provide for much faster availability of key information regarding the performance of products or their retail outlets, and serve as a guide for making distribution decisions much faster and accurately.

From a brand integrity and anti-counterfeiting perspective, by tracking to the unit level, consumers can validate that the product they are purchasing is authentic. This is a major opportunity for the luxury goods industry.

Aside from the clear supply-chain benefits, opportunities for improvements in marketing are enormous. Marketing teams will be better equipped with timely information regarding sales of their products, allowing them to adjust marketing tactics as needed.

If supply of a specific product is high and sales are low, the company can run a special to promote the product. Demand-side information will be obtained faster and more completely than ever before, allowing for subtle changes to the way products are marketed. For example, communications from purchasers can provide invaluable feedback about product characteristics, which can be used in future advertising campaigns. Any changes in product design or advertising can be detected and altered much faster if a serialized track and trace system is implemented.

On the consumer side, entering validation of product purchase on the company’s website provides the opportunity for a targeted loyalty/rewards program that more closely aligns with that consumer’s needs. In the process, the consumer gets more relevant information and rewards, and the company gets the opportunity to create brand loyalty and increase targeted sales opportunities.

Supply chains have become much more efficient, and products are shipped through these channels much faster than before. Yet even with this increased efficiency, there are still many unrealized benefits of serialization in the supply chain. As more advanced labeling and serialization systems become available at lower price points, companies have the opportunity to embrace the next step in supply-chain management to create a game-changing differentiator through serialization.

Steve Wood is president and CEO of Covectra, Inc.

By: Steve Wood, SCB Contributor

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Is Amazon Facing ‘Shipaggeddon’ This Holiday Season?

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Multi-Shipper Management Tools Help Retail Fulfillment Solution Providers Meet Their Clients' Complex Parcel Shipping Needs

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How We’ll Scale Distribution of the COVID-19 Vaccine

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A look at the challenges and prospects for distributing millions of doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in the coming months.
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Coping With Black Friday 2020 — and Manufacturers’ ‘Crazy Thursday’

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Clarkston Consulting

This short video was created with the intent of explaining serialization to anyone – your coworkers, your boss, your next-door neighbor, your spouse – after watching this video, anyone should have a basic understanding of what serialization is, why it was created, and which challenges it’s intended to solve. For more information, visit Clarkstonconsulting.com/serialization

The Housing Market Is Still On Fire

The housing market has been on a tear since the spring. In a trend the Morning Brief has called both a surprising and defining feature of this pandemic-induced recession.

On Thursday, existing home sales were just the latest piece of housing data to exceed expectations, with homes selling at an annualized rate of 6.85 million last month, the fastest pace since April 2007.

Read more: Buying a house: What you need to know about home ownership

At this pace of sales, the housing market’s biggest pre-pandemic problem — a lack of affordable inventory — has only been exacerbated: there is currently just 2.5 months of inventory on the market.

Housing starts data published Wednesday showed new homes under construction rose to the fastest pace since February while permits to build homes are at more than 13-year highs. But this uptick in home construction isn’t likely to do much to ease this tightness in the market.

Back in September, Bloomberg Opinion columnist Conor Sen outlined how major homebuilders like Lennar (LEN) have outlined a cautious approach for the coming years, emphasizing moderate new building and careful debt management.

The scars of the housing crisis are deep and won’t likely be forgotten for some time.

“Homebuilders’ confidence has soared even though the actual production has not,” said Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors. “All measures, such as reduction to lumber tariffs and expansion of vocational training, need to be considered to significantly boost supply and construct new housing.”

But a resurgence in the virus combined with this troubling inventory dynamic likely keeps a lid on further gains in home sales in the months ahead.

“The clear message from the mortgage applications numbers, which have been drifting gently downwards since late August, is that home sales have peaked,” said Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics. On Wednesday, the weekly report on mortgage applications showed a 0.3% decline in total applications last week.

“We don’t expect a significant reversal of recent gains,” Shepherdson added, “but the period of surging home sales — new and existing — is over. Tighter lending standards appear to be reducing the flow of new applications, and the current downshift in growth in the face of the third COVID wave can’t be helping, either.”

But as Shepherdson notes, a lack of inventory will prevent any softening in home prices even if plans to purchase a home are tempered somewhat.

Leaving the housing market in much the same place we found it before the pandemic — undersupplied and oversubscribed.

By Myles Udland, reporter and anchor for Yahoo Finance Live. Follow him at @MylesUdland

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Summit Properties NW

The US housing market has been on fire since the coronavirus pandemic. Some of the signs: Super low inventory, low-interest rates, and strong demand from buyers looking for something different. What is driving this upward trend in what should be a devastating time for the US economy? Join your host Sean Reynolds, owner of Summit Properties NW and Reynolds & Kline Appraisal as he takes a look at this developing topic. #housingmarket#marketupdate ➜➜➜ SUBSCRIBE FOR MORE VIDEOS ➜➜➜ To never miss a video about personal finance & real estate related topics, please subscribe to my channel & then hit the bell notification here ➜ https://bit.ly/3bOA04n 🎙 𝑺𝒆𝒂𝒕𝒕𝒍𝒆 𝑹𝒆𝒂𝒍 𝑬𝒔𝒕𝒂𝒕𝒆 𝑷𝒐𝒅𝒄𝒂𝒔𝒕 iTunes: https://apple.co/2MkFziJ Spotify: https://spoti.fi/2Dh8EoL Stitcher: https://bit.ly/2FDK0QC 👫 Follow Summit’s Socials! Facebook: https://facebook.com/summitpropertiesnw/ Instagram: https://instagram.com/summitpropertie… LinkedIn: https://linkedin.com/company/summit-p… 💼 Summit Offers a Simple 80/20 Commission Split With No Other Associated Fees & A Low $10,000 Annual Cap! 👉 Learn More: https://summitpropertiesnw.com/career/ 🏡 Summit Properties NW, LLC. Office: (425) 451-3342 Email: inquiries@summitpropertiesnw.com 👍 Please Like, Share, and Subscribe For More News & Real Estate Insights

More Than 50 Thousand SMEs Receive Loans To Sustain Their Businesses During The Pandemic

This article was translated from our Spanish edition using AI technologies. Errors may exist due to this process.

  • More than 50,000 SMEs have received working capital loans, with an average of 125,000 pesos each. And each venture has requested, on average, up to 2.5 credits.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, more than 15 thousand small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) found an option in Mercado Pago to keep their businesses running and 7 out of 10 who applied for a loan did so through Mercado Crédito.

The foregoing, according to a survey of 1,160 SMEs nationwide conducted by Trendsity, at the request of Mercado Pago. According to the survey, most of the resources obtained through Mercado Crédito allowed these business units to increase inventories (51%) and use it as working capital, which includes equipment and operating expenses, among others (46%).

So far, more than 50,000 SMEs have received working capital loans, with an average of 125,000 pesos each. And each venture has requested, on average, up to 2.5 credits.

“As part of the economic reactivation, credit has become essential to encourage the economic development of entrepreneurs. For that reason, we increase our offer every month and have placed more than 3,500 million pesos among SMEs so that they can get ahead in this difficult time, “said Jonathan Sarmina, director of Mercado Crédito México.

More online payments to keep trading

“50% of the SMEs that joined Mercado Pago do not have a physical store, so 65% of them chose to reinforce online sales and 55% to offer more payment options,” said Sergio Dueñas, director of Payment Market.

Among the payment methods preferred by SMEs, the Payment Link stands out (82%), followed by the payment through Mercado Pago with its own website (72%); the Point Blue card terminal (62%) and QR code payments in (49%).

He explained that, according to the results of the study, 92% of those consulted understand that offering a greater number of payment options allows them to reach more potential customers and the same percentage declares that they will continue to use Mercado Pago in a world without a pandemic.

By:Entrepreneur en Español

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