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The Western Union Company (NYSE:WU)

Barclays Capital Emerging Payments Forum

March 20, 2013 9:30 am ET

Executives

Khalid Fellahi - Senior Vice President and General Manager of Western Union Digital Ventures

Michael A. Salop - Senior Vice President of Investor Relations

Unknown Analyst

Thank you, for having us. Barbara [ph], thank you very much. Next up, we have Western Union. All right, I think we should just jump right in, in interest of time. We're obviously very happy to have Khalid with us today. He's the head of the -- he's the Senior Vice President and General Manager of Western Union's Digital business, who's been running -- really changing that business and growing it pretty considerably over the last -- how long has it been, about a couple of [ph] years?

Khalid Fellahi

A couple of years.

Unknown Analyst

That you've taken over that role from previously being -- where were you, Africa? Yes, the head of Africa. So we're obviously very happy to have him with us today. Mike Salop is here with us, too, from investor relations. Mike, thanks for being here. We're going to start off also with these audience response questions like we did with the others. Number one, if you can pull up your handheld devices. Number one, do you currently own shares of Western Union? Number one is yes, overweight; two is equal weight; three is yes, underweight; and then four is no.

[Voting]

Unknown Analyst

All right. So number four is a -- so a lot of new investor potential. Number two, is what is your general bias towards Western Union stock right now, positive, negative or neutral? And I'm going to turn it over to you now, Khalid.

Khalid Fellahi

All right. So I guess, I know what job I have to do today. Very good, thank you very much. And I'm happy to be here. I was here last year, approximately at the same time. So maybe for some of you who are here, there might be a couple of things we can talk about, what changed between last year and this year.

So as you said, I've been with the company for about 10 years. I've run our African business for many years, and then our electronic channels in general. But for the past 2 years, I've focused on growing our Digital business and turning around that operation and making it a high-growth operation for Western Union. So I'll be focusing a lot on that over the next few minutes.

Yes, that's helpful. Thank you. You read it? Thank you. So just as globally, just a snapshot of Western Union 2012, $5.7 billion in terms of revenue, $1.3 billion in terms of profit, interesting cash flow. And more to the point as I'm going to talk a lot about our new channels, 27% increase in the electronics channels revenues, so very high-growth for our industry. 41% increase in more specifically the dot-com Money Transfer transactions. And other elements of the health of the company, $1 billion return to shareholders in various forms. An extraordinary network, which is still one of our biggest assets, which is the 510,000 Agent locations around the world in more than 200 countries. And then the strong consumer base with 231 million consumer-to-consumer transactions worldwide. That's about 70 million people sending money, and then you have the receivers. And obviously, for the past few years, we've also developed a B2B business, and we operate on a base of approximately 100,000 B2B customers.

So that's a snapshot of Western Union. And if you look at our portfolio and our revenues, 81% of the revenues are consumer-to-consumer revenues. 11% of our revenue is consumer-to-business, primarily book payment focused on a few countries, U.S. and a few Latin American countries. And that's a very nice compliment to actually our consumer-to-consumer business. Actually, it's a very natural complement to it. B2B, which is focused on SME business, is about 6% of our revenues. And then we have a portfolio of new ventures that is growing, like prepaid, and that makes 2% of our business. If you look at the consumer-to-consumer business, which is obviously our most important portfolio, 96% of this business is still retail and 4% is Digital or ABMT, which is another form of Digital. I'll just comment on it briefly over the next couple of slides. So that's our portfolio, largely consumer-oriented business.

If you look at our business, over the past few years, we have seen a growing diversity in terms of channels and in terms of payout options. Western Union has been known for the cash-to-cash business. But actually over the past few years, we have made a lot of progress in diversifying our channels, and in particular, setting up the infrastructure to diversify our channels. And these are really the fast-growing channels today.

So if you start from the left, top left side, we have wu.com operation. And wu.com is a proxy for both our Web business, as well as our mobile business, apps and mobile Web. So I'll just call it wu.com, but it's actually multiple form factors. We, today, have operations in 23 countries in North America, Europe and APAC, which means that we have approximately 4,000 active corridors, meaning that we move money between approximately 4,000 payers of countries. So that's the portfolio we have, pretty balanced portfolio, not relying greatly on any particular geography only. So that's something which is important to know, and we'll continue to grow that piece of the business in terms of geographic expansion.

At the center, of course, is the 510,000 locations worldwide, which is one of the main assets that is enabling actually our electronic channels. wu.com is extremely successful simply because we also have that payout network for cash. And I'll talk about some other assets we have developed. Over the past few years, we've also been partnering with banks, that's a natural thing for us to do. We've partnered with them in cash, but we partner with them also in the electronic channels. And we have the product, which is called account based money transfer, which is basically originating transactions from the online portals of banks and other institutions. And today, we have a presence in about 38 countries, we have approximately 100 agreements in place and we're deploying these agreements over time. So that's also an important factor in terms of driving choice for the consumer.

Mobile. Mobile, we -- Mung-Ki was here just a few minutes ago. So mostly in the developing economies, the mobile wallets or the mobile stored-value schemes have been growing. Over the past few years, it's still nascent, but they've been growing. So early on, we made sure that we inserted ourselves in that ecosystem. And we have partnerships in approximately, I think, 17 countries today or 15 countries, and we have about 17 live operations. But we have a few more agreements that are just being -- they're being deployed. So again, it's our goal to interconnect with whatever can make sense for our consumers.

And then lastly, this is something relatively new, I talked about it last time, but it was just starting, is the account payout capabilities. The year ago or, let's say, December 2011, we did not have any account capabilities, we were only paying out in cash. But the vast part of the market is actually demanding a bank payouts capability because that's what consumers want. So since then, we have deployed our service in about 46 countries since December of last year, where we have the ability to pay in bank accounts. That will continue growing both in terms of geographic expansion as well as choices in terms of product attributes for this particular business.

So really a growing diversity, which basically embraces our vision of being everywhere in every way for our consumers. That's really our goal. And that's translated into the 16,000 active corridors for Western Union if you combine all of the options of how you want to send money and how you want to pay out money around world.

I'll focus a little bit more now on the Western Union Digital business, so online and mobile. And today, this is about 3% of Western Union's revenue. It's about $150 million plus in terms of revenue, and it's double-digit growth in 2012. And I'll give it a little bit more color on the progression of growth that we have in this particular business.

We'll be able to see the next slide, when I click on the right button. Just want to talk briefly about the market opportunity. I mean, I don't know if I really have to convince people, but this is definitely a growing market opportunity. We have still a very small market share, so the growth is in front of us. We have an opportunity to capture a lot of market share in this particular channel. The channel adoption growth is high, we're talking about 24% CAGR just on originating from online. We're talking about new customer segments. And most of the customers that are actually enrolling and transacting on our -- in our online business are actually brand-new to the franchises is our -- this is really pure acquisition in terms of both customer base and in terms of revenue. Smartphones have been changing the landscape over the past few years, and it's accelerating. They actually provide online services to a wider segment of the population, more adoption with online services. And we continue to serve obviously on the remittance growth. But given our low share anyway, I mean, we only have just like a great road for growth there. And we have also some called beyond remittance use cases. We're seeing people transferring money and obviously for remittances, but also for other reasons, whether it's domestically here in the U.S. or in any other country or about paying bills or maybe just savings or things like that. So we really have a variety of products that we can market for this particular channel.

So we have started to invest in this business after many years, where we actually probably just let the business happen to us, and then it was growing at, I'd say, single-digits. And in early 2011, we decided to change things and we decided to change our -- the way we're looking at this business and set it up as an independent or, let's say, an organization endowed with its own P&L, its own infrastructure, its own staff, et cetera. So we really invested in this business. We started in 2011, but the bulk of the investment happened in 2012. And the investment went into basic things, making sure that we upgraded our technology to have something that is on par or better than what the industry in general has today. We acquired talent. We went after top talent in this space and made sure that we built a team that could lead growth for the next few years for us. We also invested in marketing. We've made sure that our brand, which was already very strong -- a lot of people actually show up online and type westernunion.com without going through search because of the power of the brand. But we just wanted to enhance that brand and also tell what kind of products we were offering to the consumers.

And all of that resulted -- and I'll give you some numbers at the end, but all of that really resulted in accelerated site traffic, so more people showing up in our site, more conversion, a growing customer base. I mentioned that most of the new customers showing up are actually brand-new, over 80% are brand-new to the franchise, new business. And then also growing retention. So all of the metrics started going up positively. And in 2011, we already started growing by 29% our volume after kind of a sluggish growth in the previous years.

Now just one thing, which I will never stress enough. The reason we are growing and the reason we are so strong is we have assets that are unparalleled. It's about the cash payout network. Again, [indiscernible] going to have 4,000 corridors today is because we're present in 200 countries. That's how we can enable the business and how the brand is known in all of these countries. You just raise your head, you look at the Western Union side and you know what it means in 200 countries in the world. The brand recognition, I just mentioned, is very high. And then we have some strong assets that we have leveraged in terms of risk mitigation and compliance, which helped us fast-track some of the things we needed to do.

Now if I come to last year, when I showed up here, there was a bunch of people with me in San Francisco. We just had established the base there, really like the first people who we hired and started to move. We're talking about really a handful of people. In the meantime, we hired 120 professionals and established a division, an office, a culture, a rhythm that is really unique in our company today. And this was bringing talent, this was bringing new ideas. And this is one of the major components that actually makes us grow because we're just much more innovative. So instead of me telling you about these people, I thought that I would entertain you with a little video. And then that would be a little bit better than just me talking about it. So if I could have the video, please? And people on the webcast, you actually have to click on play on the left side of your screen.

[Presentation]

Khalid Fellahi

Thank you. So I thought that would be much better to listen and hear the people who actually are doing the job every day. And this team that is really -- first of all, the global team that may be based in San Francisco, they really work globally. And then also the passion, the entrepreneurial spirit they have and the pace that is really extremely fast at which we're delivering things.

When you look at our Digital customers, I always get asked, "Who are these customers? What kind of customers do you have?" And the one number you have always to remember is more than 80% of the new customers joining online for the past 12 months, if I look at just that, are brand-new customers to the franchise. The 20% that is coming from our business represents a tiny portion of our large retail business. You're not talking about a massive or cannibalization of our business, you're talking about the tiny little piece, which is 20% of the online business, just 3% of the business overall. But most of the customers are brand-new. That means that it's new business, it means new customer and new business for the future.

Who are they? They're actually pretty -- there's a variety of customers, and you need to segment to make sure that you're serving the ones that have -- that are underserved first better than the competition. But typically, they're banked, obviously. Because they work online, so they use, I'm sure, a financial instrument to pay for their transfer. They use us for emergency and gifting. We'll always be very strong in that area simply because we're so much everywhere that any tourist that is lost somewhere or somebody has a problem will think about Western Union first to get cash very immediately, including my daughter, from time to time, when she's in front of Saks.

The remittance is obviously a very important business case, and we will continue to be strong and we'll continue to serve the remittance need, although in a slightly different market segment. We're talking about people, for example, that are moving money into bank accounts, that are doing investments back home. These are the double belongers. They are strongly established in this country or in one of the other 22 countries that we are present in, but they also have a strong presence in their own country. I am, myself, a typical customer of online. And I can give you just the use cases that I have that will maybe tell you how we address the customer segment.

I send money to one of my relatives every month that gets it in cash. He has no other way of doing it. He's not banked, his world revolves around cash. And I send him money every month. And I can do it from my office, I can do it from my phone, I can do it while sitting in this room later today. I send money to my bank account in my home country because I have to pay for a mortgage there and I need to put money in my bank account. No one is allowing me to do that in the way that I'm doing it, no one. I'm banked with one of the largest banks in the U.S. I'm a premium customer. No one will allow me to do that, right? And also at a cost that is reasonable, no one. It will take weeks for me to get my money into the bank account of my country of origin, which is Morocco.

I send money to my daughter in the U.K. She's in college in the U.K. And I pay her tuition using Western Union Business Solutions online. Actually, you know what, I have no other possibility of paying her tuition in London than using Western Union Business Solutions. So there you are, you have a customer. And if you look at our world and, say, just around California, there are many people like me. In our offices, there are many people like me. So this is like a new brand customer, multiusage, a lot of transactions repeat. The importance is convenience, the importance is safety, the importance is peace of mind. I don't want to think about the fact that my -- the tuition fees are not going to be paid on time or something. So you're talking about very sophisticated customers that we are acquiring.

Of course, you still have also the early adopters in other segments. That's normal. People graduate to smartphones. For example, you have your taxi driver that is in his 20s, and then sends his money back home to Kenya and will use his smartphone while waiting in line at the airport. And he will do the transaction in 30 seconds. So we have those guys, too. But it's not the bulk of the segment. So multiple segments, variety of people but definitely most digital-savvy or tech-savvy in general and with much stronger customer lifetime value potential. You're really talking about farming this customer, serving them for more than one thing, and then you have a strong business with them.

In terms of key developments, a thousand things that we have done. I already mentioned the fact that since last year, we deployed our account payout service in 46 countries, including China a few weeks ago. And we will continue to push hard on this particular service because it's a service that is in high demand. It's a service where we had no presence. So for us, it's just brand-new business, right? It's just brand-new growth. So that's a very important development. By the way, it's not only online. We also actually provide this service even from retail. So if you're in the U.A.E., you can -- or in France, you can still go and put cash and send your money to the Philippines in a bank account.

In terms of platform, I mentioned briefly that we have technology that had aged. We have really been working hard this year in replatforming our business. And we've made great progress. And over the next few weeks, you will see some new things happening out there in the market. They're already there and it's kind of a beta mode. So if you're lucky, you can see them. But if you're not, you'll have to wait for another few weeks. But we actually rearchitectured our business. We rearchitectured our business also using an e-wallet platform, which gave us or gives us a lot more flexibility on how to develop products and how to hang more products around a customer account and a customer profile. So all of these will help us go faster, faster in building new use cases, new pricing schemes, new value propositions for customers. And this will be an accelerated mode. This is -- we are at the beginning of it, so the numbers that I will be telling you have not even fully taken into account these investments that we have made so far.

We have been thinking or rethinking. One of the aspects is also our customer experience. We've done a lot of work on that, and it's going to be a never-ending process. But the reason I mention is not because it's pretty or it's easy, it's measured in 1 metric, conversion, how many customers show up, how many customers start, how many customers finish. And there we continuously progress and we have made strong progress in that area with higher conversion, higher customer growth and higher retention. So people stay with us longer time, and we expect to be growing that number significantly. The nice thing is that we are nowhere near the limits, right? So when I look at the growth business and I see the runway that we have to grow all of our metrics, we are nowhere near any of the limits. So that means that you have a lot of potential for growth as you increase those metrics overall.

We've also made some progress in terms of how we fund our transactions. Last year, in June, we launched the ability to fund through our own payment methods, the transfer [ph] payment method in the U.S. will be rolled out in other countries, which is called WU Pay. And it's something which is very attractive for some specific customers. It allows you to push funds into Western Union through the bill payment system here in the U.S. through 17,000 banks. So that's something where we offer more to the consumers than what they have. And obviously, you have the usual suspects, such as ACH and a better version of ACH than what we have today. And this is U.S., but everywhere around the world, there are different payment methods that customers prefer, and we go after these ones. It's a variety of things, right? It's actually every country is different.

We also have looked at our value proposition. And obviously in a high-growth venture, you have -- you push -- you have a series of push, right? You push on the conversion, then you push on the price, then you push -- so you see that growth going through multiple S-curves. So in October or November of last year, we did a -- along with the company in general, we did a nice price value revaluation. And we priced adequately in many of the corridors around the world, not necessarily because of competition all the time, just because we wanted to set the right price to actually increase volume, increase customer adoption and increase retention. That exercise has been a one-time first effort, but it's a continuous thing that you do over time once you've done kind of a first push. So we've seen the results of that. And you'll see that in the growth that we'll talk about in a couple of slides.

One area which I want to briefly touch on is we're departing from the online business here per se. But Mung-Ki talked about it briefly, it's about what's happening in many of the developing economies, in particular this mobile wallet business, this stored-value accounts using mobile as a platform. We saw this trend happening a few years ago and we made sure that we are a part of the ecosystem as quickly as possible. And we are actually perceived and seen by this ecosystem, there are about 120 or 130 initiatives out there, as the partner for this kind of business. And what we do is move money in and out of these wallets. Today, we have about 40 partnerships, 17 of them are live in 15 countries. And while we see this for us more as a nascent business today, we are part of this ecosystem. There's not a problem with business mediation or what have you, we are already part of the ecosystem and a partner of choice for any of the operators out there.

Then I think I'll just finish with one last slide because at the end of the day, you want to know -- okay, but what kind of growth did you have? And if you just look at the last 2 years, where we moved from a kind of a stabilizing business to a growth business. In particular, in this year, 2012, where we started investing more significantly, you have a business that is $150 million today plus. We have an accelerated transaction growth, 29% in 2011, which was like the first push moving from stable. 41% in 2012, 46% in the last quarter of 2012, so you see the trend. And we expect further acceleration in 2013 in terms of growth. There's an -- with that, there's obviously an accelerated customer acquisition because that's basically what fuels our the future growth. And it's a profitable business, so we're actually very happy and continue to invest in this area.

I think that was my last slide. I mean, the other things are really just for you to go. The business happens not only because we've changed some of the key components on the Digital side, but because we rely on a strong global business. That's the key asset that we have today.

Thank you. Any questions? How do you want to run it?

Question-and-Answer Session

Unknown Analyst

Yes. I mean, we can just jump in. Anyway, while we're waiting for the mic, I'll just ask the first question on -- you mentioned that 80% of your new -- of customers are new to Western Union. And I guess, that just of one of the questions we often get is really how that is in the sense of being able to do things online doesn't create new customers. It doesn't create somebody that all of a sudden wants to now send money internationally. So who exactly are these 80% that never did it before?

Khalid Fellahi

Well, remember that these 80% of the customers are actually underserved. They are underserved because today they want to transact digitally, they want to go online, but they don't have a company that offers them the reach that they want to have, such as initiating a transaction from, say, Spain to Costa Rica. Who does it? Suddenly, this guy has now an option and shows up and actually can do that transaction. So the very, very simple -- I was an underserved customer until I had Western Union. I'm a very banked customer but underserved in my needs. So that's exactly what's happening. We get the acquisition of these customers because we provide them a choice, because we pay out in 200 countries, because there's no other credible alternative to do that except using -- the bank system is good, but you have to be patient and guess about how much you're going to pay at the end. So that's as simple as that.

Unknown Analyst

Right. That's helpful. So it's just a lot of bank wire, a lot of people that really wanted to do it, but...

Khalid Fellahi

A lot of people underserved that didn't have that option before we showed up.

Unknown Analyst

Okay. Any other questions? Yes?

Unknown Analyst

You mentioned 23 markets for the outgoing volume, and of course, developed countries, of course, U.S., Canada, Western Europe. But then I mean, like would you discuss also some of the outgoing market countries on the emerging markets side, as well as some of the regulatory pressures, specifically on licensing that you could face [ph] in those developing countries?

Khalid Fellahi

So being Western Union, we obviously think we own the 23 countries. That's in our DNA. That's how we create our business, and then outgoing business in most of these countries. So it's absolutely the natural thing to do for us to go for the next ones. It's just a priority pipeline. It's just something that needs to be done now that we have a new platform, using the right infrastructure. And it's obvious that we'll be there. So I will let you find out once you see a press release. But absolutely, we see that as an opportunity today and in the future. Most of the growth over the next 10 years is going to happen in those places anyway. Most of the middle class is going to happen -- growth is going to happen in those countries anyway. So it is our intent to be as global as we are in our traditional business. Have I answered your question?

Unknown Analyst

You mentioned your -- over here. You mentioned your mortgage is one of transactions you're doing. That's a good repeat transaction that you get on a monthly basis. The transactions that you're seeing through system, are they those same type of repeat transactions? Are they more one-off type transactions that you're seeing?

Khalid Fellahi

So we're going retention, as I said, so that means that we see the number of transactions per customer increase. I did disclose the number last year that we had approximately 8% increase just last year in 2011 of our number of transactions per customer. And we continue to see that trend happening. So more share of wallet, if you like, the way I was describing it. My use cases are obvious ones. I used to do only cash, and now I can do multiple other things.

Unknown Analyst

And just a follow-up. You have a 3 -- you said your 3% of the Western Union transactions are revenue.

Khalid Fellahi

Revenue.

Unknown Analyst

Revenue. And what -- do you have a goal in mind over the next 3 to 5 years where you're going to take that to? And then one last piece, what's the source of getting these new customers because it's apparently not from the retail locations?

Khalid Fellahi

So $500 million is our goal. That's been publicized for 2015. And we maintain our target. And so where these new customers are coming? Again, I'm saying, we have a very low market share in this particular channel, where people are actually transacting in other ways. Maybe it's banks, maybe it's some competitors. There is some form of online ongoing. Also the channel adoption is growing at 24% CAGR according to a McKinsey study. So that's also fueling the natural growth. So if you combine these, you see where those customers are coming from. And you have new customers, actually they graduate to online. Every month, you have more and more people. And I described also just the fact that we roll out to new countries, that we roll out our service. We then start serving people who are currently underserved and they switch to us.

Unknown Analyst

I think we have time for one more question.

Unknown Analyst

So you've answered a fair bit of what I wanted to ask. Is your prepaid card, your account in your e-wallet, the primary account that's just in the e-wallet?

Khalid Fellahi

No. Prepaid card is -- prepaid is just an instrument to move funds out of somewhere. And the e-wallet that we -- infrastructure that we have implemented, at this point, is an infrastructure. We haven't productized it yet. So today, it's 2 separate businesses, if you like, but -- or actually it's not 2 separate businesses because we have a lot of our Money Transfer customers that adopt prepaid cards. But you're right in seeing the link happening at some point of -- link in all of these assets.

Unknown Analyst

And back to the regulatory question that was asked. Can you say over the past 5 years where have been the biggest drivers of cost with respect to regulation date, international particular matters that have really been driving some of the costs?

Khalid Fellahi

So in the digital space per se or in our global business?

Unknown Analyst

Global.

Khalid Fellahi

Global. All right. So this is great because I'm going to defer this question to my colleague, Mike Salop, sitting here. And he'll be able to give you a better answer than I would.

Michael A. Salop

[indiscernible] Europe, other parts of the world as well. Regulation, just in general, as a trend that continues to increase, get tighter, whether it's around anti-money laundering, fraud or just general compliance. So generally, it's a global perspective. And we've had a lot of particular situations to the U.S. with our own Southwest Border agreement with the Consumer Financial Protection board. But it's really a global phenomenon.

Unknown Analyst

Okay. If there is one more quick one, I guess, we'll take that, and then we're going to wrap it up.

Unknown Analyst

The goals you have from -- for this year, you've said you made some pricing adjustments, et cetera, in November. How much revenue yield degradation do you expect this year versus last year? And will your business be more profitable this year than last year?

Khalid Fellahi

So these next couple of years, '13, '14, we see them -- we still see them as investment years. We are profitable today, but the -- what we communicated so far is that in 2015, we expect the margins to be in line with our global business. So that's the communication we have on the margins. And I think that in terms of pricing, we have room. We still have room and significant room, I'd say, to continue to tweak our price value equation. Many of the things we've done were proactive, not necessarily reactive. And also we're looking at pricing in a slightly different manner. We look at pricing more as a customer lifetime value pricing than actually a [indiscernible] transaction by transaction. You're starting to run a customer, and some products or some things might be traffic builders versus other products, where you actually make a better margin. So I think we have to stop thinking about transaction by transaction. It doesn't make sense anymore.

Unknown Analyst

Okay. I think we're going to wrap it up there. Khalid, thank you. Let me just wrap up with the 3 ARS questions, and then we'll take a break. Number one, what do you think are the greatest risk space in Western Union: compliance pressures from Mexico; number two, competition from online; number three, emerging local competition, so just Russia and China; and number four, macroeconomic pressures?

[Voting]

Unknown Analyst

Okay. Online. Number two, what do you perceive is the best strategic opportunity for Western Union in the short term: number one, greater outreach to bank's population; number two, growth in the online channel; number three, deeper marketing to cohorts that send money to cohort countries; or lastly, further price cuts?

[Voting]

Unknown Analyst

Online. And then lastly, how likely are further price cuts in the medium or long run: number one, major cuts are possible, look into those recently implemented; number two, some cuts are possible in isolated geographic corridors; lastly, Western Union shall pursue no further price actions?

[Voting]

Unknown Analyst

All right. So it's a tie between the first two. Guys, thank you very much. Khalid and Mike, thank you again very much for being with us. We have a 10-minute break. We'll be back, please, at about 10:30 for the government and payments panel with the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau and the Treasury Department will be next.

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