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Which is the Best Online Business Bank?



The banking universe is expanding, at least online. In the fintech space, there are dozens of new and relatively new online banks. They don’t usually look like traditional banks and bank accounts because they’re highly niche. Much like investment brokers, online banks specialize in product and service offerings for specific customers.

Three online banks that specialize in business banking are Azlo, Novo, and BlueVine. And while all three work in much the same way, each specializes in specific niche areas. If you run a small business, one of these banks could be the right banking service for you.

Azlo vs. Novo vs. BlueVine – The Overview

After reviewing all three banks, I’ve found what each is best for:

BankBest For
Azlo• Small business owners with bad credit
• QuickBooks users
Novo• Small business owners with bad credit
• Business that conduct international transactions
BlueVine• Business loans
• Interest-bearing checking
• Paper checks
• Cash deposits

About Azlo

Bluevine alternative - azloAzlo is an online bank that services only small businesses. That includes entrepreneurs, independent contractors, and freelancers, in addition to small businesses. The company is partnered with BBVA.

Because it uses a simple online banking process, Azlo is able to keep fees low, without the monthly maintenance fee that you typically find with commercial accounts at traditional banks. Like many online banks, Azlo uses financial tools specifically designed to help freelancers and small business owners.

To open an account with Azlo, you must have a minimum of 25% ownership in the business, and it must be US-based. Azlo is not available for businesses connected with gambling, cryptocurrency, financial services, or cannabis.

Read our full Azlo Review

About Novo

Novo is a limited service bank for small businesses and freelancers. Like many new banks today, Novo is a digital bank with no physical branches.

The company offers its banking services through a partnership with Massachusetts-based Middlesex Federal Savings. Novo focuses on a simple platform, often using third-party partners to provide specific business services. It’s designed to make banking easy for small businesses.

Read our full Novo Review

About BlueVine

BlueVine also focuses on providing banking services for small businesses. They offer their online business checking account. They also provide small business loans, invoice factoring, and flexible business payments.

Banking services are provided through Bancorp Bank.

Like Azlo and Novo, BlueVine offers a streamlined banking platform with low fees. In fact, the company charges no monthly fees whatsoever.

Read our full BlueVine Review

Basic Features

Azlo Basic Features

ATM Network: 55,000 fee-free in-network ATM machines through the Allpoint network.

Customer Support: Monday through Friday, 6:30 AM to 5:30 PM, Pacific time, by phone, and by email with a response time of one business day.

Mobile Accessibility: Android devices, 5.0 and up, and iOS devices, 11.0 and later. Includes mobile check deposit of up to $40,000 per month.

Security: All account balances are FDIC insured up to $250,000 per depositor.

Availability: All 50 states

Azlo features

Novo Basic Features

ATM Network: None, but all ATM fees are reimbursed at the end of each month.

Customer Support: Monday through Friday, 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM, Eastern time, by phone, email, or through the app.

Mobile Accessibility: Android devices, 5.0 and up, and iOS devices, 11.0 and later. Includes mobile check deposit.

Security: All account balances are FDIC insured up to $250,000 per depositor.

Availability: All 50 states

Novo features

BlueVine Basic Features

ATM Network: Over 38,000 no-fee ATMs nationwide through the MoneyPass network.

Customer Support: Available by phone and by email, though no specific days and hours of availability are provided.

Mobile Accessibility: Android devices, 4.2 and up, and iOS devices, 9.0 and later. Includes mobile check deposit.

Security: All account balances are FDIC insured up to $250,000 per depositor.

Availability: All 50 states

BlueVine dashboard

Account Types and Loans


Azlo only offers a business checking account. The account comes with a Visa business debit card that can be used fee-free at more than 55,000 in-network ATMs. Since it’s a business account, you can create personalized invoices and email them to your clients through the banking app. You can also accept card payments through third-party payment services, like PayPal, Square, and Stripe.

Checks can be deposited using the Azlo mobile app, with funds available in one to six business days. They offer free payments and standard transfers, as well as an unlimited number of transactions. The account has no minimum balance requirements.

Azlo does not have the capability to send international payments or make international transfers. The account also does not offer a check payment capability of any type.

Azlo offers an optional instant transfer capability up to $2,000 per day, and $10,000 per month. The instant transfer option fees range from $1 to 2% per transfer.

Azlo does not offer deposit accounts, like savings or money markets, or certificates of deposit.

Azlo does not offer loan products or credit cards.


Novo offers a single account: a free checking account for businesses. You can open an account with just $50, after which there is no minimum balance requirement. It also has the advantage of having no monthly fees and no hidden fees.

The checking account can be used to transfer funds, mail checks (though you are not provided with a supply of paper checks), and accept incoming wires. You can take advantage of the Bill Pay feature to pay bills and invoices electronically.

The bank does not have its own ATM network, nor does it participate in a third-party network. However, you’ll be reimbursed for ATM fees incurred at month-end for any terminal you use.

The account comes with a MasterCard business debit card that can be used anywhere MasterCard is accepted. There is a daily withdrawal limit of $1,000.

Novo does not offer deposit accounts, like savings or money markets, or certificates of deposit.

Novo does not offer loan products or credit cards.

Related: The Best Small Business Credit Cards


Like Azlo and Novo, BlueVine offers only a business checking account: BlueVine Business Checking. The account is offered with unlimited transactions, live support, and no monthly fees. The account comes with invoicing capabilities that do not require the use of a third-party service.

One of the biggest advantages of a BlueVine business checking account is that it pays interest of 1.00% APY on balances over $1,000. The account also comes with 200 free checks.

The account currently does not integrate with third-party accounting software programs.

The account comes with the BlueVine MasterCard debit card, issued by Bancorp Bank.

BlueVine does not offer deposit accounts, like savings or money markets, or certificates of deposit.

BlueVine offers business financing secured by a general lien on the assets of your business and backed by a personal guarantee. Funding is between $5,000 and $5 million and is determined by your personal FICO score, as well as your business financials.

The Flex Credit program is a revolving line of credit. Once approved for a line, you can access funds from your credit line into your bank account. Monthly payments are debited from your account on a weekly or monthly basis for up to 12 months. You must have a personal credit score of at least 650 and generate at least $40,000 per month in revenue.

BlueVine also offers invoice factoring. That’s where you can sell your invoices to the bank for quick cash, rather than waiting for your customers to pay. To qualify, you must be in business at least three months, have a personal credit score of 530 or more, and generate at least $10,000 in monthly revenue.

Related: Best Small Business Loans

Special Features


Azlo offers the following special features:

  • The bank does not check your credit history when you apply for an account.
  • Integrates with Quickbooks, PayPal, Venmo, Stripe, Square, Kabbage, Xero and Wave.
  • Azlo Envelopes is a budgeting tool to categorize and fund for savings toward a business goal.


Novo offers the following special features:

  • The bank does not check your credit history when you apply for an account.
  • You can accept foreign checks, even through mobile check deposits.
  • Send and receive international money transfers in major currencies with TransferWise.
  • Connect the account to digital wallets, like PayPal, Venmo, Google Pay and Apple Pay.
  • Integrates with Xero, a global accounting software serving 1.8 million subscribers; transactions are automatically saved and reconciled every hour.
  • Discounts and credits from third-party providers, including Zendesk, HubSpot, Stripe ($20,000 in free credit card processing), Google Cloud ($3,000 in credits), salesforce essentials penji, and Winstar Payments ($250 off equipment and set up fees).


BlueVine offers the following special features:

  • Pays 1.00% APY on account balances greater than $1,000.
  • Online bank that offers paper check-writing.
  • Offers business loans, invoice factoring and flexible business payments.
  • Online bank that accepts cash deposits through GreenDot.




Azlo charges no monthly maintenance fees, incoming wire fees (both international and domestic) and no overdraft fees.

There is no charge for standard transfers, however the following fees apply under the Instant Transfer program:

$1 for instant outgoing transfers,

1% of the amount of incoming transfers greater than $500.

2% of the amount of incoming transfers less than $500.


Novo does not have monthly maintenance fees, nor do they charge any fees in connection with the use of your MasterCard business debit card.

The only fee the company charges is $27 for non-sufficient funds or return of deposited items.


There are no monthly service fees, and no fees for either incoming wires or insufficient funds. The only fee you’re likely to incur is $15 for outgoing wires. However, that fee is substantially lower than what traditional banks charge for outgoing wires.

BlueVine charges $4.95 per deposit when you make cash deposits at GreenDot locations. That’s in addition to any fees charged by GreenDot.

The big picture reality is that paper checks are quickly going away. Most individuals, and especially businesses, conduct most of their transactions electronically or through debit or credit cards. As paper checks become increasingly uncommon, they represent an additional cost to the banks that provide them. Limiting or eliminating them entirely enables banks to lower their fees. But many online banks that don’t offer paper checks directly do provide a paper check payment capability. You can generate the checks through the banking app, and have it mailed to the recipient.

The answer is in the word “online.” Absent bank branches, online banks aren’t in a position to accept cash. Just like checks, society and the economy are gradually moving away from cash, especially for business purposes. Plastic and electronic transfers and payment methods are simply too convenient. And if you run an international business, you’re entirely unlikely to get cash anyway.

Once again, online banks are looking to provide banking services with lower fee arrangements than traditional brick-and-mortar banks. Though some of the larger online banks do offer 24/7 phone support, most new online banks – especially those that cater to a very specific clientele – limit both the contact methods and the hours of availability.

Learn More: How to Open a Business Bank Account 

So which one is best?

The table below shows the basic features of all three popular banking apps, side-by-side:

FeaturesAzloNovoBlue Vine
Minimum Initial Deposit$0$50$0
Accounts OfferedBusiness checking onlyBusiness checking onlyBusiness checking only
Loan ProductsNoneNoneBusiness loans, invoice factoring, and flexible business payments
ATM Network55,000 fee-free in-network ATM machines through the Allpoint networkNone, but all ATM fees are reimbursed at the end of each monthOver 38,000 no-fee ATMs nationwide through the MoneyPass network
Customer SupportMonday through Friday, 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM, Eastern time, by phone, email, or through the appMonday through Friday, 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM, Eastern time, by phone, email, or through the appAvailable by phone and by email, though no specific days and hours of availability are provided
Account SecurityFDIC insurance up to $250,000FDIC insurance up to $250,000FDIC insurance up to $250,000
Mobile accessibilityAndroid and iOS mobile devicesAndroid and iOS mobile devicesAndroid and iOS mobile devices
SpecializationsNo credit check; Integrates with Quickbooks, PayPal, Venmo, Stripe, Square, Kabbage, Xero and WaveNo credit check; accepts foreign checks and conducts international transfersPays interest of 1.00% APY on balances over $1,000; provides paper checks, offers loans, and accepts cash through GreenDot
FeesNo fees for monthly maintenance, incoming wires or ATM usage; $1 to 2% fee for instant transfersNo monthly or ATM fees, $27 for NSF or returned itemsNo monthly, NSF, or incoming wire fees; $15 outgoing wire fee, $4.95 to access cash through GreenDot
AvailabilityAll 50 statesAll 50 statesAll 50 states
Visit AzloVisit NovoVisit Blue Vine

Though we work to determine the best product or service in a business or consumer category, the choice usually comes down to personal preference. Between Azlo, Novo and BlueVine, there is no single best bank. But one may be the best bank for you, based on your own personal preferences and circumstances.

Azlo is a perfect choice if you’re a small business owner with bad credit who also uses QuickBooks to run your business. It also has the advantage of requiring no minimum initial deposit or ongoing balance requirement.

Novo is also an excellent choice if you have bad credit, or if you conduct an extensive amount of international transactions. Not only do they provide the capability for international transactions, but they charge no fees for doing so.

If we do have to declare a winner among the three banks, it just might be BlueVine. Not only do they offer business checking with no minimum initial deposit, but your account also comes with paper checks and the ability to make cash deposits. And though they don’t offer a savings account option – none of these three business banks do – they do pay interest on checking account balances greater than $1,000. That’s pretty much a savings account equivalent. And if you need one, BlueVine is the only bank of the three that provides any type of financing. That includes business loans and a revolving line of credit.

Bottom Line

All three banks provide a low- or fee-free way to bank for your business. Which of the three banks is best for you depends on your small business banking needs.

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Bad Credit

European Regulator Worries Banks Are Ignoring Borrower Troubles



The European Central Bank is worried lenders in the eurozone aren’t properly evaluating the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the financial health of borrowers, a problem that could result in a sudden cascade of defaults.

Andrea Enria,

head of banking supervision at the ECB, said banks are setting aside less money to cover for loan losses than peers in other countries, including the U.S. He added that the provisions are below levels reached during the financial crisis and short of the levels models suggest are required.

“The way in which banks are preparing for asset quality deterioration varies widely and could, in some cases, be insufficient,” Mr. Enria said Thursday.

He expects the impact of renewed lockdowns will be reflected in banks’ fourth-quarter results and through 2021. Several eurozone banks are due to report their annual results next week.

The true health of eurozone borrowers has become harder to track due to the amount of financial support from the ECB and the region’s governments, which includes payment holidays on existing loans. In Italy, for instance, over a quarter of loans to businesses are under payment moratoriums. In Portugal, half of the credit to companies in the hospitality and restaurant sectors are under the program.

State guarantees on loans have also incentivized eurozone banks to continue lending, including to small companies that would likely go bust without that help.

Mr. Enria said that while the support is likely helping banks to keep their loan books healthy, there are signs lenders aren’t properly looking at the personal situation of the borrowers who received support.

“Since March last year we told banks that they should develop additional indicators to try to understand the quality of their customers and to see through the moratoria,” Mr. Enria said. “We are not seeing a lot of that happening,” he said.

The ECB earlier last year said bad loans in the eurozone could soar as high as €1.4 trillion, equivalent to $1.7 trillion, if the economies were to contract more than expected, a scenario the central bank said was severe but plausible. That amount would be more than during the aftermath of the financial crisis more than a decade ago.

The ECB said the probability of that scenario is lower now, but “significant uncertainties remain in the short to medium term.”

Most banks were able to keep their capital levels stable through last year, although nine have taken advantage of looser regulatory requirements and ate into their buffers, the ECB said Thursday without naming the lenders.

The biggest concern for regulators is that low profitability—and a potential flood of losses from bad credit—could quickly deteriorate those capital levels.

Write to Patricia Kowsmann at [email protected]

Copyright ©2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8

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How long do offers last, and what if I have bad credit? We answer the most-asked mortgage questions



Forget the eyes – nowadays, it is our internet searches that provide a window into the soul.  

We often turn to search engines to ask the questions that are on our minds, whether we’re just looking for a quick answer or because it’s something we are embarrassed to ask in person. 

Now, Britons’ most common mortgage questions have been revealed, thanks to a new analysis of Google searches.  

Many of the mainstream lenders are able to offer a mortgage within 2-3 weeks of an application being submitted, according to the mortgage experts we spoke to

Many of the mainstream lenders are able to offer a mortgage within 2-3 weeks of an application being submitted, according to the mortgage experts we spoke to looked at search data from the last twelve months, and discovered that the most asked mortgage question, with 20,960 searches, was ‘How long does a mortgage application take?’

Britons also wanted to know how long a mortgage offer lasted for, how to get a mortgage with bad credit, what an interest only mortgage was, and what a lifetime mortgage was. 

Applying for a mortgage can sometimes be complicated, and there is often a lot of jargon to contend with – so it is not surprising that people search online for more information.

This is Money asked Mark Harris of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients, Nicholas Morrey of mortgage broker John Charcol and a spokesperson from the Mortgage Advice Bureau to help provide answers to the five most-asked questions.

How long does a mortgage application take?

The most common mortgage question on Google, this is particularly relevant at the moment given that some buyers are keen to complete before the stamp duty holiday ends on 31 March. 

But the answer depends on the type of mortgage application being submitted, according to Harris.

For example, a product transfer – where you stay with your current lender but move to a new deal – can take a matter of days, whilst a more complex mortgage application can take weeks.

‘Once the application is submitted, a lot depends on the lender and the complexity of the application – it may take anywhere between one day to two weeks for an initial assessment to take place,’  Harris said. 

If you’re self-employed or the mortgage valuation requires a surveyor to visit the property in person, then you are likely to face further delays. 

A firm mortgage offer will follow once your application has been fully reviewed and an acceptable valuation received.

The experts we spoke to said that typically, it would to take two to three weeks from application to offer – but the pandemic has meant that these timescales have been stretched. 

‘Unfortunately, during the Covid-19 pandemic, lenders have suffered from staff and resource issues and tasks are taking longer to complete,’ said Harris.

‘Also, given the effect on employment and income, lenders are scrutinising applications in greater depth to see how applicants have been affected.’ 

How long does a mortgage offer last?

In most cases mortgage offers last for six months, although some offers will only last for three months.

‘If the offer expires, lenders will sometimes agree to an extension – although this will sometimes require a re-assessment by the lender,’ said Morrey.

A typical mortgage offer will last for six months, but this can sometimes be extended

A typical mortgage offer will last for six months, but this can sometimes be extended

‘For example, the original deal may no longer be available, or a new valuation may be required, or the lender may wish to re-assess your income and outgoings.’

Where an application involves a new-build property, the offer may last longer – potentially up to 12 months, according to Harris.

‘Borrowers should be aware that some new builds have completion deadlines that may not coincide with offer expiry dates,’ he said.

How to get a mortgage with bad credit?

Some lenders will not offer mortgages to people with a history of bad credit, and this was something that Google searchers wanted to know how to get around. 

Lenders that are willing to do so often charge a higher interest rate, to reflect the increased level of risk.

‘When getting a mortgage with bad credit, you can expect to borrow less and to pay more in interest in comparison to someone who has an exemplary credit record,’ explained the spokesperson for the Mortgage Advice Bureau.

Having bad credit may mean you are not able to borrow as much on your mortgage

Having bad credit may mean you are not able to borrow as much on your mortgage

‘High street lenders are generally averse to dealing with those who have bad credit, which can make it pretty difficult.

‘When you apply for a mortgage, it can register on your credit file – and if you apply to a number of lenders to see if they will lend to you, it may be doing additional damage to your credit score.’

‘Your best option, according to Mortgage Advice Bureau, is to contact an established and experienced mortgage broker.

‘They will have access to contacts and deals that are exclusive and not available to the general public. The mortgage broker will carry out a ‘soft’ credit check first, so your inquiry doesn’t negatively impact your credit score.’ 

What is an interest-only mortgage?

Another common question on Google concerned interest-only mortgages. So what are they? 

When borrowing for a home, you can either opt for a repayment mortgage or an interest-only mortgage.

With a repayment mortgage, you will pay back a part of the loan, as well as the interest, each month until you eventually pay off the mortgage.

With an interest-only mortgage, you will only pay the interest each month, with the loan amount remaining the same.

‘It means your monthly payments will be lower but, at the end of the mortgage term, the full amount you borrow is still outstanding and you have to pay the lender back everything at that time,’ said Morrey.

‘When applying for an interest-only loan, the borrower must demonstrate that there is a clear and credible strategy in place to repay the capital,’ added Harris.

What is a lifetime mortgage?

A lifetime mortgage is a mortgage secured on your home, with the loan only being repaid when you pass away, go into long-term care or sell the property.

Two examples of this are retirement interest-only mortgages and equity release mortgages.

Equity release allows you to access some of the equity in your home via a lifetime mortgage

Equity release allows you to access some of the equity in your home via a lifetime mortgage

‘Lifetime mortgages often have fixed rates of interest, and in the case of equity release mortgages, the fixed rate is for life and not just two or five years,’ explained Morrey.

He added: ‘They should not be confused with lifetime tracker mortgages, which track a specific index such as the Bank of England base rate – these will likely have an end date and won’t be for a ‘lifetime’ in itself.’

There are strict lending criteria, with the amount you can you borrow depending on your age.

‘Seeking expert financial and legal advice is crucial for this type of mortgage,’ said Harris.

‘An adviser covering both equity release and standard mortgages would be most useful as they can assess the most suitable route forward.’

Some links in this article may be affiliate links. If you click on them we may earn a small commission. That helps us fund This Is Money, and keep it free to use. We do not write articles to promote products. We do not allow any commercial relationship to affect our editorial independence.

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What is a Subprime Mortgage?



What is a subprime mortgage? If you’re asking this question, chances are good you’re either trying to borrow for a home with poor credit or you’ve been offered a loan you’re concerned is a subprime loan. We’ll explain the answer to the question “what is a subprime mortgage?” and discuss some of the risks and alternatives.

What is a subprime mortgage?

Prime loans usually offer competitive interest rates to well-qualified borrowers. A subprime mortgage is similar to a conventional mortgage, except it has a higher interest rate. Subprime loans are geared toward borrowers with bad credit who can’t qualify for a prime mortgage at the best rates. Lenders take a bigger risk with subprime loans, so they charge substantially higher rates due to the borrower’s poor credit history.

If you have a credit score below 620, you may not be able to qualify for a prime mortgage, but you might get a subprime mortgage.

Types of subprime mortgages

There are multiple types of subprime mortgage loans. However, one particular type of loan — an adjustable-rate mortgage — is especially common for subprime mortgages.

Adjustable-rate mortgages

Many subprime mortgages are adjustable-rate mortgages, or ARMs. The introductory rate on an ARM is fixed for a limited time. For example, a 5/1 ARM provides a fixed rate for five years. After that, the rate adjusts based on a financial index.

That means your interest rate may go down — but it could go up, too. ARMs carry more risk than fixed rate loans. If interest rates rise, monthly payments could increase. If you take out an adjustable loan, find out how high your payment could go. Don’t assume you’ll always be able to refinance or sell your home before it adjusts.

Fixed-rate mortgages

With fixed-rate subprime mortgages, the interest rate remains the same for the entire repayment period. Since the rate doesn’t change, payments don’t change.

The important question is, what is a subprime mortgage interest rate you’d qualify for? You need to make sure the rate is reasonable and that monthly payments are affordable.

Shop and compare rates from multiple mortgage lenders for poor credit to find the best subprime loan rates. And use a mortgage calculator to see how much your monthly payment would be for any loan you’re considering.

Interest-only mortgages

Interest-only mortgages allow you to pay only interest for a limited time, such as the first five years. This makes monthly payments more affordable, but you don’t make progress in reducing your loan principal.

At the end of the initial period, you’ll begin paying both principal and interest. Your payments may rise substantially because you’ll have a shorter timeline to pay your loan off. If you took a 30-year mortgage and only paid interest for the first 10 years, you’d have just 20 years to pay off your entire principal balance.

Most interest-only loans are also structured as ARMs, so you take the added risk of rates going up and payments rising.

Dignity mortgages

Dignity mortgages are a specific type of subprime loan offered by some lenders. With this type of mortgage, you’ll initially have a high interest rate. But if you make on-time payments for a period of time, your interest rate will eventually be reduced to the prime rate.

Subprime mortgage risks

It’s important to also consider if you’re willing to take on the risk of this type of loan. Some of the biggest risks include:

  • Interest costs will be high: You will pay significantly more mortgage interest over time than if you took out a conventional mortgage.
  • Finding a lender may be difficult: Not all mortgage lenders offer loans to subprime borrowers. You could be limiting your potential loan options.
  • Payments could increase: If you choose an ARM, you face the risk of interest rates going up and payments rising.
  • Foreclosure is possible: If you don’t pay your subprime mortgage loan, your lender will foreclose. Your credit could be severely damaged.

Lenders are required under Dodd-Frank financial reform laws to conduct an “ability-to-repay” assessment. This ensures borrowers are capable of paying back their loans. These mandates can reduce the risk for borrowers. But the bottom line is buying a house with bad credit can create a host of complications.

Alternatives to subprime mortgages

You may be wondering if there are other options. The good news is that there are multiple solutions for borrowers with bad credit. Some of the best options include these government-back loans:

  • FHA loan: FHA lenders often work with borrowers with lower credit. FHA loans are available to borrowers with credit as low as 500 as long as they make a 10% down payment. Borrowers with scores of 580 or higher can get approved with a 3.5% down payment.
  • VA loan: A VA mortgage loan is available to eligible service members and veterans regardless of their poor credit history. The VA doesn’t set a minimum score, but some lenders do.

USDA loan: These allow you to purchase eligible homes in rural areas. More stringent underwriting is required to qualify borrowers with credit scores below 640. But it may still be possible to qualify.

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