$5.5B AUM Pension Fund Buys Bitcoin and Ether Because They Can’t “Ignore” It Anymore

$5.5 Billion AUM Pension Fund Buys Bitcoin and Ether Because They Can’t “Ignore” It Anymore

Houston firefighters’ pension fund is the latest to join the cryptocurrency scene.

The Houston Firefighters’ Relief and Retirement Fund has announced that it has bought $25 million worth of Bitcoin and Ether for a defined-benefit plan’s portfolio with the help of NYDIG, a subsidiary of asset manager Stone Ridge.

The Fund’s chief investment officer Ajit Singh said the investment expressed their belief in “the disruptive potential” of cryptocurrencies.

“We are excited to take this first step forward into the world of digital assets.”

The fund with $5.5 billion in assets under management said that this crypto investment had been years in the making. This move also came as Bitcoin price hit a record high above $67,000 earlier in the week, and Ether nearly hit its $4,380 ATH following the debut of the first US Bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF).

However, the Houston Firefighters’ Relief and Retirement Fund prefers directly buying crypto assets than taking on the risk associated with futures-related investments.

“We didn’t want to get the synthetic exposure.” “We decided to go directly to the token. As more and more institutional adoptions happen, there will be more and more dynamics that develop for supply and demand. And having physical assets — actual tokens — gives us in the future the possibility of income generation potential.”

NYDIG’s global head of asset management, Nat Conrad, said in a statement that this investment “represents a watershed moment for bitcoin and its place in public pensions.”

Previously two Virginia pension funds bought crypto assets two years ago and recently said that they are planning to expand their investments by another $50 million.

“I see this as another tool to manage my risk.” “It has a positive expected return and it manages my risk. It has a low correlation to every other asset class.”

The fund handles retirement benefits for over 6,600 active and retired firefighters and family beneficiaries. For the past 17 years, active firefighters have contributed 9% of their salary to the fund, with the city of Houston contributing at least twice that amount.

“We have been studying this as an asset class to add to our investment portfolio for quite some time; we were watching it, we were analyzing it.” “It became an asset class we could not ignore anymore.”

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Author: AnTy

1Inch Network Restricts Access to US Users, imToken Blocks Chinese Users from using its DEX and DApps

Decentralized platforms might not be as decentralized as they claim to be.

This can be seen with the decentralized exchange aggregator 1inch, which has started geofencing US IP addresses.

“It looks like you are trying to use the linch dApp from a restricted territory or are using a VPN that shows your location as a restricted territory,” reads the pop-notification on the platform when used by the people in the restricted regions.

“We respect your privacy, but, please, change your VPN settings to correspond with your real location.”

The Terms of Use of the platform also talk about the interface not being available to those residing in the United States of America.

This means America has been now added to the restricted territories, which include Belarus, Burundi, Crimea and Sevastopol, Cuba, Democratic Republic of Congo, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Venezuela, Zimbabwe, or any other country to which the US, the UK or the European Union embargoes goods or imposes similar sanctions.

“Use of a virtual private network (e.g., a VPN) or other means by restricted persons to access or use the Interface is prohibited.”

Reportedly the terms were changed in April, but the notification was just recently added. The platform has been planning to launch a new product in the US to comply with the regulatory requirements.

1Inch Network is also in the process of collecting the Series B funding round that has grown to $175 million from the previously planned $70 million, Sergey Maslennikov, chief communications officer of the 1inch Network, told The Block.

Decentralized finance (DeFi), along with the broad crypto market, has been seeing increasing regulatory scrutiny in the US throughout this year. Popular DEX Uniswap also delisted several tokens earlier this summer as the SEC turned its attention to the sector.

Besides the US, as China strengthened its stance against crypto, imToken announced that it would restrict users in China from accessing and using its DEX, staking services including stake mining and liquidity mining, and DeFi applications such as lending and derivatives to match the regulatory policies.

As we reported, the heightened ban and the resultant shutdown of centralized crypto services in China have users turning to decentralized applications, but if they continue to ban users, they might be decentralized only in the name and claim.

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Author: AnTy

Crypto Market Dips and Over 165k Traders Get Liquidated for More Than $890 Million

But as long as central banks and governments continue to print money, which they will as Democrats are now pushing to expand the largest single spending bill in history $3.5 trillion package, investors will continue to turn to risk assets.

The cryptocurrency market has taken a drop today.

From its highs in the last 24 hours, Bitcoin has fallen more than 3.6% to as low as $50,590. The leading cryptocurrency had surged to $53,000 late on Sunday or early Monday.

As for Ether, it slid more than 6.5% to $3,675 from its 24-hour high of about $3,975.

Among the top 100 crypto assets, the biggest hit in the past 24-hours was recorded by SafeMoon of 15%, with other double-digit losses seen by Avalanche, IOTA, Horizen, Internet Computer, Filecoin, Sushi, Compound, Ethereum Classic, Polygon, Uniswap, VeChain, BAT, GRT, Cardano, Shiba Inu, Terra, Dogecoin, and Aave.

This has resulted in a 4% dip in the total market cap, which was at almost $2.47 trillion yesterday, nearing its $2.55 trillion peak, which slid down today and is currently at $2.36 trillion.

Despite the losses, Solana is up 25% and Fantom over 23%, while FTT is in the green by almost 5%.

The latest drop in the market resulted in liquidating 165,323 traders for more than $890 million, according to Bybt. But these numbers are not exhaustive as Binance does not report its full figures.

Bitcoin accounted for the most of it at $222.4 million, followed by $159.3 million in Ether and $80.8 million in Solana.

The funding rate on Bitcoin perpetual contracts has slid down some, with the highest currently at 0.0536% on Binance. The crypto asset prices have been recovering since July 21, and last week funding started trending up as prices made their way up, especially for Ether which went past $4k briefly on Friday, not far off of its $4,380 peak.

The highest funding rate on Ethereum perpetual is currently on Bybit at 0.0778% on USDT margin contracts, while the lowest is 0.01% on Binance for token margins contracts.

Meanwhile, open interest remains elevated at $19.41 billion on Bitcoin futures, gradually making its way to a $27.68 billion high. For Ethereum, OI has hit a new ATH on Monday, surpassing $11.6 billion from May 10. Today, it has seen a slight dip to $11.26 billion.

Despite the dip, the macro outlook remains bullish, with Democrats pushing to expand the largest single spending bill in history, $3.5 trillion tax and spending package.

So, as cryptocurrency exchange FTX noted in its blog titled “The everything bubble & TINA 2.0,” as long as money is being printed, the prices of everything from stocks, commodities, to venture capital, retail estate, and crypto should increase in value.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, already $32 trillion of fiscal and monetary stimulus — the largest stimulus as a percentage of global GDP — has been pumped into the markets while government bonds are negative-yielding.

“If global central banks and governments are going to continue to print money, investors are faced with a TINA 2.0 predicament, where cash is literally burning a hole in their pockets, pushing them not just into risk assets, but further out the risk curve, exacerbating wealth inequality along the way, leading to even further risk taking,” noted FTX.

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Author: AnTy

Digital Assets “Not Regulated by the CFTC,” Even if They Are A Commodity: CFTC Commissioner

Digital Assets “Not Regulated by the CFTC,” Even if They Are A Commodity: CFTC Commissioner

One of the Commissioners of Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), Dawn D. Stump, released a statement on Monday detailing the agency’s regulatory authority over digital assets. She said,

“The CFTC’s regulatory oversight authority, as well as the application of our enforcement authority, must be well understood by the public. Only then can proper regulatory compliance be demanded.”

With the growth in cryptos’ popularity raising the question of how this new financial asset class is regulated in the US, Stump said, “there has often been a grossly inaccurate oversimplification,” regarding either categorizing them as securities regulated by the SEC or commodities regulated by the CFTC.

This misunderstanding about “US regulatory delineations has grown to a point” that Stump believes it now requires correction. In response, she has laid out ten points as to how and what the CFTC regulates.

These basics by Stump covers that commodity’s definition under CFTC is “extremely broad” and does not regulate cash commodities. So, “Even if a digital asset is a commodity, it is not regulated by the CFTC,” however, the CFTC does regulate derivatives on digital assets, it said.

She further states that when it comes to CFTC’s regulatory authority concerning crypto-assets, instead of considering whether a cryptocurrency is a commodity or security, the focus should be on whether a futures contract or other derivatives product is involved.

“The CFTC does not regulate commodities (regardless of whether or not they are securities); rather, it regulates derivatives—and this is true for digital assets just as for any other asset class.”

CFTC Chair Brian Quintez, a notable crypto advocate meanwhile, is preparing to spend August 31st as his last day in the office. In his statement upon departure, he said,

“During my term, the CFTC has overseen the listing of Bitcoin futures contracts; the custody of digital assets within the traditional clearing infrastructure; the proliferation of blockchain technology; the creation of cryptographic, tokenized commodities; and the rapid expansion of decentralized finance (DeFi), which purports to realize the ultimate transparency-competition-innovation-reward dynamic of a true free market.”

US president Joe Biden is reportedly planning to nominate acting CFTC Chair Rostim Behnem to serve as the full chairman.

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Author: AnTy

82% Wealth Managers & Institutional Investors to Dramatically Increase Crypto Holdings within 3 Yrs

82% of Wealth Managers & Institutional Investors say They will Dramatically Increase their Crypto Holdings within 3 Years

Only 7% of this new survey respondents said they would reduce their crypto exposure, and a mere 1% said they would sell their entire holding.

Four out of ten institutional investors and wealth managers from the US, UK, France, Germany, and the UAE who have exposure to crypto-assets revealed that they will dramatically increase their holdings between now and 2023.

These findings were revealed by a new survey conducted by Nickel Digital Asset Management in early June. At the time, Bitcoin’s price was between $30k and $35k.

According to the firm, in most cases, institutional investors with holdings in cryptocurrencies have very low levels of exposure as they start testing the markets. Anatoly Crachilov, co-founder and CEO of Nickel Digital said,

“The number of institutional investors and corporates holding bitcoin and other cryptoassets is growing, and their confidence in the asset class is also increasing.”

The survey further reported that while 82% expect to increase their exposure, only 7% said they would reduce their crypto exposure, and a mere 1% said they would sell their entire holdings.

When it comes to what is driving this interest, 58% of respondents said the main reason for investing more in digital assets is the long-term capital growth prospects of crypto assets. This was followed by 38% saying they are getting more comfortable and confident in holding the asset class.

37% cited more leading fund managers and corporates investing, giving them more confidence to invest, with 34% saying an improving regulatory environment is also a key factor in wanting to raise their allocation.

Many of these professional investors who already hold crypto and are looking to increase their exposure are driven by several factors, including strong market performance during the Covid-19 crisis, said Crachilov.

Crachilov also pointed to more established investors and corporations endorsing the market, and the improving infrastructure and regulatory framework as other factors for the same, saying, “These trends will continue to expand.”

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Author: AnTy

PBoC Talks Crypto ‘Hype’ with Banks and Institutions & Prohibits Use of Their Services

They will also increase the investigation and monitoring of customers, including exchanges and OTC dealers and capital transactions, and will take immediate action against those still involved because crypto trading “disrupt normal economic and financial order” and “infringe people’s property safety.”

  • The central bank of China summoned banks and payment institutions to talk about the speculation issues related to cryptocurrencies.

The People’s Bank of China met with the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, Agricultural Bank of China, China Construction Bank, Postal Savings Bank of China, Industrial Bank, Alipay, and others and ordered them not to participate in virtual currency-related business activities.

The relevant departments of the People’s Bank of China pointed out that virtual currency trading activities disrupt the normal economic and financial order, breed the risks of illegal cross-border transfer of assets, money laundering, and other illegal and criminal activities, and seriously infringe the people’s property safety.

All banks and payment institutions are now asked to strictly implement the “Notice on Preventing Bitcoin Risks” and “Announcement on Preventing Token Issuance Financing Risks” and other regulatory requirements.

Banks and institutions are not to provide account opening, registration, and registration for related activities such as trading, clearing, and settlement.

They are to comprehensively investigate and identify virtual currency exchanges and over-the-counter (OTC) dealers’ capital accounts and cut off the payment link for transaction funds.

Furthermore, they must analyze the capital transaction characteristics of virtual currency trading hype activities, increase technical input, and improve abnormal transaction monitoring models.

Amidst this, the price of Huobi Technology’s shares rose, which according to local publication Wu Blockchain, could be due to the central bank’s “relatively mild” action.

Before PBOC’s statement came, the Agricultural Bank of China issued its own on Monday stating that it prohibits the use of its services for virtual currency transactions and related activities. Now, Alipay and others have also issued their related statements.

The decision has been made in accordance with the recent guidance from the relevant departments of the People’s Bank of China and the meeting of the Financial Committee of the State Council.

According to the statement, the third-largest bank in China prohibits customers’ access involving virtual currency transactions and will increase the investigation and monitoring of customers and capital transactions.

If customers are still involved, the bank will take measures against them immediately, including suspension of account transactions and termination of customer relationships. The translated version of the notice reads,

“In order to protect your legitimate rights and interests and the safety of funds in your account, please actively cooperate with our bank’s due diligence work, assist our bank in fulfilling its legal obligations, and crack down on illegal and criminal activities involving virtual currency mining and fund transactions.”

The bank is further urging customers to be on high alert to the risk associated with virtual currency-related business activities and to beware of being deceived.

While most banks in China released a similar notice in 2014 to stop customers from trading cryptos, this time is different in three regards. As per Wu Blockchain, the latest notice clearly shows the requirements of the central bank, requiring an investigation of past behavior and reporting that to the government.

On the negative side of things, China doesn’t seem to be done with its crackdown on crypto. On the positive side, “meaningful reversal in global markets just now, with equity futures doing a 180 turnaround and bonds giving back all overnight gains,” said trader and economist Alex Kruger.

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Author: AnTy

SEC’s 2021 Regulatory Agenda Does Not Include Bitcoin or Crypto

With cryptos like Bitcoin deemed not securities, they fall out of the SEC’s jurisdiction, and the agency has no legal authority to regulate the crypto space while continuing to postpone the decision on Bitcoin ETFs.

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has released its regulatory agenda for 2021, but Bitcoin is not part of it.

Its focus is rather on short-selling, a topic that gained momentum after the retail mania with meme stocks GameStop and AMC Theaters.

The SEC’s agenda shows the regulator will focus on climate risks, market structure modernization, and transparency around stock buybacks, short sale disclosure, securities-based swaps ownership, and the stock loan market.

Investment fund rules, enhancing shareholder democracy, special purpose acquisition companies, and mandated electronic filings are other things on the agenda. SEC Chair Gary Gensler said,

“To meet our mission of protecting investors, maintaining fair, orderly, and efficient markets, and facilitating capital formation, the SEC has a lot of regulatory work ahead of us.”

“I look forward to collaborating with my fellow commissioners and the dedicated staff to propose and finalize rules that will strengthen our markets, increase transparency, and safeguard investors.”

The fact that the SEC deems cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, not securities, fall out of the SEC’s jurisdiction. Basically, SEC has no legal authority to regulate the crypto space, and there’s no clarity around which regulatory body non-security crypto assets fall under.

“Laws need to change before the SEC has authority over bitcoin,” said Jeff Dorman, CIO at Arca.

Meanwhile, the approval of a Bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF) is in no way close to being done despite several companies having filed for both Bitcoin and Ether ETFs.

SEC has already postponed its decision on VanEck’s Bitcoin ETF, and on Monday, it delayed another one, Kryptoin ETF, by 45 days to July 27.

SEC’s new chairman Gary Gensler, who has taught blockchain classes at MIT and was expected to be crypto-friendly, recently said that cryptocurrencies are a “highly volatile asset class” and that the public would benefit from more investor protection on the crypto exchanges.

“There’s a lot of authority that the SEC currently has in the securities space, and there are a number of cryptocurrencies that fall within that jurisdiction but there are some areas, particularly bitcoin-trading on large exchanges, that the public is not currently really protected.”

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Author: AnTy

“Netherlands Must Ban Bitcoin Now,” says Director for Economic Analysis

Pieter Hasekamp is calling for a complete ban on crypto — mining, trading, and holding because they are only good at privacy which is used by criminals, while government money works just fine with “hardly any currency devaluation…although inflation is now slowly picking up,” he said.

The director of the Dutch Bureau for Economic Analysis is calling for a complete ban on the mining, holding, and trading of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

This comes after crypto trading platform Bitonic won its case against the Dutch Central Bank last month regarding the apex bank’s wallet verification requirement. The regulator formally acknowledged at the time that its requirement was unlawful and should have never been called for the purpose of crypto exchange platform registration.

Now, today in an opinion piece on the local publication FD which had 3.72 million visitors in May, Pieter Hasekamp, director of the Central Planning Bureau, said the bursting of the crypto bubble is inevitable, and the Netherlands needs to act now, or the consequences of the crash will be “too great.”

Pointing to Gresham’s law, “Bad money crowds out good money,” Hasekamp said Bitcoin fits this pattern with cryptos exhibiting “all the hallmarks of “bad money”’ — unclear origin, uncertain valuation, and shady trading practices.

That’s Not Going to Happen

According to Hasekamp, cryptocurrencies do not fulfill the three functions of money, while government money “scores well in terms of value retention.”

Interestingly, the buying power of one euro (1€) has depreciated by a whopping 30% between 2000 and 2020 from 1€ to 0.7€. Hasekamp wrote,

“In recent decades, there has been hardly any currency devaluation. Although inflation is now slowly picking up, few people believe that we are returning to the figures from the 1960s and 1970s.”

All in all, the current monetary system works very well in practice, he said while arguing further improvements are conceivable through central bank digital currencies (CBDC).

While fiat currencies work so well, private cyber currencies “perform far worse than public money on all counts,” he added.

But Hasekamp did find one area where cryptocurrencies do better, and that’s in the privacy aspect, and “that anonymity is exactly what makes them attractive to criminals.”

As for its use as a store of value, Haskamp wrote that it is based on the hope that cryptocurrencies will one day replace real money, “but that’s not going to happen.” He wrote,

“Cryptocurrencies are essentially neither money nor a financial product, but… a contagious story in which people believe because other people believe in it. Gresham’s law is replaced by Newton’s law: what goes up must come down. The ultimate collapse of the crypto bubble is inevitable.”

As countries take steps to curb the crypto hype, Hasekamp wants the Netherlands to move fast and “ban Bitcoin” because “whoever moves last is the loser.”

He points out how China has already made its move by banning several crypto activities while the Netherlands is lagging behind. While the Central Planning Bureau concluded in 2018 that stricter regulation was not yet necessary, cautious regulation can now “backfire,” he said.

Regulation simply “legitimizes crypto as a bona fide financial product. Recent developments show that it is time to act: the longer we wait, the greater the negative consequences of the eventual crash,” said Hasekamp.

As such, he is recommending a total ban on the production, trading, and even possession of cryptocurrencies.

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Author: AnTy

More Bitcoin Supply Ready to be Sucked Out of the Market

With more than $1 billion tied up in hedge fund arbitrage-shorts, they need long-spot positions to hedge further, driving the supply shortage, notes Charles Edwards of Capriole Investments.

Bitcoin currently trades around the all-time high, coinciding with a weekly resistance level. On the lower timeframe, as the downward trend pattern breaks, we could see the continuation to new highs.

The $6 billion Bitcoin futures and options expiry last Friday also suggests that downward pressure on the price has eased. “In the past months, Bitcoin has set local bottoms around important option expiration dates,” noted Charles Edwards of Capriole Investments.

The growing interest in these products means they can have a significant impact on BTC price.

In the futures market, contracts are trading at significantly higher prices than the underlying asset. And by buying spot Bitcoin and shorting the futures, the delta between the two can be locked in as a risk-free trade.

This is exactly what hedge funds are doing, as evident from their massive short position in Bitcoin in the recent month, which

“is a big endorsement for Bitcoin, as it shows that Bitcoin is becoming a serious asset class.”

Currently, there are more than $1 billion tied-up in hedge fund arbitrage shorts, which is growing fast. This means, “all these shorts require long-spot positions to hedge risk, so more and more Bitcoin supply is being sucked out of the market just to maintain these short positions.”

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Overall, Bitcoin is “skewed bullish” in all timeframes, but still, it will be a daily close above $60k that will provide a good technical breakout buy signal for the short term, said Edwards.

“Historically, April is the second-best month for Bitcoin returns. With an average return of over 20%, the 70Ks are on the cards.”

While Bitcoin’s exponential rally is showing some healthy signs of consolidation over the last few months, the underlying network is strong as ever. Addresses with non-zero balance are hitting new all-time highs, and the number of active addresses is also near its ATH.

The fact that in recent weeks, over 3-year-old coins have started moving indicates that we are about halfway through this bull market.

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Author: AnTy

MLB Franchise, Oakland A’s is Offering Full Season Suites for 1 Bitcoin

  • Major League Baseball (MLB) team Oakland Athletics announces they accept Bitcoin payments for their six-person suites.
  • According to the President of the MLB franchise, Dave Kaval, each full-season suite will cost 1 full bitcoin, instead of the normal $64,800, providing a limited discount for Bitcoin buyers till April, stating he is not concerned about the price fluctuations.

During the weekend, the price of Bitcoin hit an all-time high price of $60,000, as the demand for the cryptocurrency reached a fever point. One MLB franchise, Oakland A’s, looks to cash in on the opportunity by offering users Bitcoin-payment options for its full-season six-person suites.

In a tweet by the President, Dave Kaval, Oakland A’s will charge either $64,800 for each suite for the full season or pay 1 Bitcoin (approx. $57,700) an offer that stands until April 1.

What if, during the purchasing period, the price of BTC falls drastically? According to Kaval, fans will be treated to a huge discount if this happens to be able to pay less than $60,000 per suite for the 2021 season. Kaval said the volatility is “part of the romance of the whole situation [with Bitcoin payments],” adding that the company is looking for innovations.

“We’ve always been an organization that wants to innovate, and that’s not to say this is an offer that will still be around in 10 years, but if you don’t try to innovate, it’s never going to happen.”

Oakland A’s becomes the first MLB franchise to accept Bitcoin for tickets. Kaval has been a revolutionary in integrating crypto to sports having been a part of the San Jose Earthquakes, a Major League Soccer (MLS) team, which added crypto in 2014 when he was still an executive. This, alongside demand from Oakland A’s fans, caused the latest turn to crypto payments, Kaval confirmed. He said,

“So, on some level, this is a response to customer demand and when we saw enough of those data points, and when we also saw that the Bitcoin price was approaching our suite price, it was a perfect storm.”

Despite several companies adding Bitcoin as a payment option, very few people choose to pay in Bitcoin given the rising prices and store of value qualities it offers. However, Kaval expects the cryptocurrency to transition from an SoV to a medium of exchange as the price continues to rise. Speaking to Decrypt, he said,

“I think, especially if their Bitcoin has appreciated in value a lot, people will [use it for payments].”

“Right now, it’s being used more as a store of value, but I think its use as a transaction medium will increase over time, and we’re hopeful our product offering will help with that.”

The MLB is the latest Major League to accept crypto payments as sports franchises open up accepting cryptocurrencies. NBA team, Dallas Mavericks, owned by Mark Cuban, announced the addition of Dogecoin (DOGE) for payments – after becoming the first NBA team to add BTC payment options and use blockchains for ticketing.

Kaval believes the widespread adoption of crypto across the Major Leagues shows crypto is here to stay given the “value it provides customers.”

“I think you just need it to be adopted in more places, and MLB, the oldest and most tradition-bound of the professional sports, doing it in our industry is a bellwether moment for people to realize it is in the mainstream, it does provide value to customers.”

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Author: Lujan Odera