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The 11 Best PayPal Alternatives For Business

Our top PayPal alternatives have predictable and transparent pricing, an appeal for a wide range of online businesses, a good mix of integrations, and PCI compliance.

    Frank Kehl
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PayPal payment alternatives

eCommerce pioneer PayPal has long been popular with consumers as an easy way to complete online purchases.

However, it’s also a major player in the credit card processing world, offering merchants an easy way to accept credit and debit cards without the need for a full-service merchant account.

Much like Square, PayPal functions as a payment service provider (sometimes also known as a third-party processor). However, instead of offering you a true, full-service merchant account with a unique merchant ID number, PayPal aggregates all users into a single account. This process saves money on account maintenance costs and allows new users to be approved much more quickly than the cumbersome underwriting process required to get a merchant account. Unfortunately, the downside to this approach is that individual user accounts are inherently less stable, with frequent complaints from merchants who’ve had their PayPal accounts suddenly frozen or terminated altogether due to a single “suspicious” transaction. Limited customer support options have also caused headaches for many users.

Until very recently, PayPal had followed the model of most other major payment service providers in offering accounts that featured no long-term commitment or monthly fees, coupled with a simple, predictable flat-rate pricing plan. This business model made more sense for small business owners than traditional merchant account pricing, offering greater flexibility and lower overall costs than a full-service merchant account (at low monthly processing volumes, at least).

Unfortunately, that’s no longer the case.

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Recent Changes To PayPal For Merchants

In August 2021, PayPal introduced a new pricing scheme that replaces the simple set of pricing plans that it had been using for decades.

While the new plans retain the pay-as-you-go model (with no long-term commitment or monthly fees), processing rates are now far more complex than they were before. In most cases, they’re also more expensive. Although PayPal’s processing rates continue to be based on a flat-rate scheme, the new rate schedule is so complex and features so many different rates that there’s hardly anything “flat” about it anymore.

Many of these new processing rates now include an authorization fee of $0.49 per transaction. While this won’t have much of an impact on larger transactions, it’s absolutely murderous to a business that relies on a large number of very small transactions to turn a profit. While it’s beyond the scope of this article to provide an in-depth explanation of PayPal’s new rate plans, we highly encourage current and prospective PayPal users to review our article, How Much Does PayPal Charge? The Complete Guide To PayPal Credit Card Processing Fees, to see how these pricing changes will affect your bottom line.

Do You Need An Alternative To PayPal?

First-time business owners tend to sign up for PayPal based solely on brand name recognition and good experiences with the company as a consumer. While this strategy is often successful, it’s obviously not the best way to select a partner that will have such a significant influence on the ultimate success of your business. PayPal’s older pricing plans were nearly identical to those offered by other payment service providers like Square and Stripe, so choosing among them depended more on the services available from each provider, rather than a difference in price.

That’s no longer the case under PayPal’s new pricing system, which is significantly more expensive than what other small business-friendly companies are currently offering. While PayPal can still be a cost-effective solution for some merchants, you’ll want to make a much more detailed analysis of your needs and anticipated costs before making a final decision. Also, we cannot emphasize enough that PayPal has never been a good choice for some particular business situations.

Here’s a brief rundown of the most common reasons why PayPal won’t work well for your business, and why you should consider an alternative processor instead:

  • High-Risk Businesses: PayPal publishes an Acceptable Use Policy that includes an extensive list of prohibited business activities, such as adult entertainment, CBD products, firearms, and many others. Unfortunately, the company will gladly let you sign up for an account, but then shut it down as soon as you start processing and it discovers that you’re in a high-risk With most other payment service providers also not accepting high-risk businesses, you’ll need to get a high-risk merchant account from a processor that specializes in serving the needs of this community.
  • Some International Merchants: PayPal is available in over 200 markets worldwide, but it doesn’t operate in some countries. If you’re located or do business in one of the countries where PayPal isn’t yet available, you’ll have to find a different merchant services provider.
  • Merchants Who Have Been Terminated By PayPal: If you previously had a PayPal account, but the company shut it down over a suspicious transaction, you might want to look elsewhere. Note that it’s sometimes possible to have your account reinstated if you can show that the closure was due to an error on PayPal’s part.
  • PayPal Here Users: As part of PayPal’s new service and pricing structure, the old PayPal Here mobile processing app is being discontinued and replaced with Zettle. PayPal Here users who aren’t happy with this change might consider signing up with a different provider altogether.
  • Any Merchant Who Can Get A Better Deal Elsewhere: It goes without saying that any provider that can save you money on your overall processing costs is worthy of your consideration. At the same time, we strongly urge you to consider factors other than just price, especially the quality of a company’s customer support and its reputation with other merchants. The processing industry is notorious for offering low “teaser” rates to lure in new merchants, only to jack their prices up a few months to a year later. If an offer seems too good to be true, it usually is.

The 8 Best Alternatives To PayPal For Payment Processing

The best alternatives to PayPal won’t just offer transparent pricing and support for credit-debit card processing. They’ll also be able to handle alternative payment methods, such as eChecks or ACH transfers, contactless payment methods, and online invoicing. Features such as month-to-month billing and excellent customer support are also very important.

With these criteria in mind, here are our top choices to replace PayPal for your payment processing needs:

1. Square

Square



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Best all-around processor for businesses that want something similar to PayPal.

If you’ve heard of PayPal – especially if you dislike PayPal – the odds are pretty good you’ve heard of Square. What started as just an mPOS has branched out considerably over the years, becoming a full-fledged business ecosystem, as we discuss in our full Square review. And if you’re curious about costs, read the following article for a more detailed look at Square’s pricing.

In addition to its free mPOS and POS integrations, Square offers a free online store, free domain, shopping cart integrations, virtual terminal, card info storage vault, and invoicing. That’s not to mention the APIs or the monthly add-on services (including employee management, payroll, and appointment booking). Square’s free online store is somewhat limited compared to other options, but it is a breeze to set up. If you need something more complex, the API and eCommerce integrations allow for more advanced online stores.

Like PayPal, Square is a payment service provider (PSP). That means Square users face the same inherent account instability as PayPal users. At the same time, the sheer value of what you get for nothing beyond the cost of processing is astounding. This is a major reason why Square is easily the closest direct competitor to PayPal. It even has a consumer wallet, Square Cash. So, if you’re looking for a PayPal alternative that closely approximates PayPal’s range of services, Square may have what you’re looking for.

Pros

  • Predictable flat-rate pricing
  • Affordable card readers
  • All-in-one payments system
  • Variety of POS apps, invoicing, and developer tools

Cons

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2. Shopify Payments

Shopify



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Shopify is giving Merchant Maverick users a 14 day free trial + pay only $1 for your first month.

Best for marketplace payments.

Shopify started in 2006 as an eCommerce platform. In the years since, the Shopify ecosystem has grown to include an iPad-based POS system and payment processing in the form of Shopify Payments, which it provides through a partnership with Stripe.

You can use Shopify as an eCommerce store without using Shopify Payments as your payment processor. However, Shopify will take a transaction fee of 0.5%-2% out of each sale if you use another payment processor (this is in addition to your payment processing fees). If you use Shopify Payments as your processor, Shopify waives the transaction fees. However, you’ll still have to pay the processing fees as well as a monthly fee to use Shopify’s eCommerce platform.

Shopify has a lot to offer online vendors looking for a PayPal alternative. You’ll get loads of handy features, such as abandoned cart recovery, a Facebook store, reporting features, order management, and plenty of third-party integrations. You’ll also get to choose from some decent card readers for in-person sales.

However, pricing can get confusing because you can pay a discounted per-transaction rate with the more advanced subscription plans. That must be weighed against the fact that the advanced plans cost an additional $79-$299/month, meaning you’ll only be saving money on processing fees with these plans if you’re a fairly high-volume seller.

Read our complete guide to Shopify’s plans and pricing for a closer look at costs. What’s more, if you do over $500K a year in sales, Shopify has a payment solution called Shopify Plus for large businesses.

Pros

  • Predictable flat-rate pricing
  • Using Shopify Payments is advantageous for Shopify sellers
  • Convenient checkout system
  • Numerous eCommerce integrations

Cons

  • Account stability issues inherent to all payment service providers
  • Not available to most high-risk industries
  • Monthly account fees for all service plans

Get Started with Shopify

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3. Stripe Payments

Stripe Payments



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Best for API and custom integrations.

Stripe and PayPal have a lot of similarities. For one, they both target online and in-app payments. They both work on a global scale, displaying local currencies and handling currency exchanges for their merchants, and each makes it possible to power marketplaces and share information so that merchants can sell on others’ platforms. However, Stripe is built first and foremost for developers, and its API and documentation reflect that. Read our Stripe review to learn more, then read our article on Stripe pricing to get the details on how much it’ll cost you to get what you want.

Stripe has a couple of compelling tools in its arsenal. First, its Atlas program allows international entrepreneurs to get established in the US. Second, it has a tool that allows programmers to manage and organize their data through custom SQL database questions. Other Stripe tools include a prebuilt payments page, billing and invoicing, a toolset to help you send mass payouts to sellers and service providers, and even a corporate credit card.

If you’re considering Stripe as a PayPal alternative, just keep in mind that Stripe, like PayPal, is an aggregator. That is, it lumps all of its user accounts into communal merchant accounts. That means account stability can be an issue, just as it is with PayPal. Our piece, PayPal VS Stripe: How To Choose The Right Payment Processor For Your Online Business, continues this comparison.

Pros

  • Predictable flat-rate pricing
  • Multicurrency support
  • Great marketplace and subscription tools
  • Excellent developer and reporting tools

Cons

  • Account stability issues inherent to all payment service providers
  • Not available to high-risk merchants
  • Requires some coding skills to implement

Get Started with Stripe Payments

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4. 2Checkout

2Checkout



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Best for international online selling.

2Checkout is a unique payment processor. For one thing, the company only processes card-not-present transactions. Brick-and-mortar retailers needing a credit card processor will have to look elsewhere. For another thing, 2Checkout has more features on offer (such as recurring billing and an online store builder) than your average online payment processor. Unfortunately, this means that 2Checkout is pricier than its more basic competitors. Read our 2Checkout review for the full story.

For sellers who do business exclusively online, require advanced subscription management features, or operate from a country without a lot of payment processing options, 2Checkout may be worth the extra cost. With three payment setup options and compatibility with nearly every shopping cart under the sun, 2Checkout is quite a formidable package for the right kind of merchant.

Pros

  • Predictable flat-rate pricing
  • Month-to-month agreement
  • Ideal for international merchants

Cons

  • Not for card-present merchants
  • Some reports of held funds
  • Not available to high-risk merchants

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5. Dwolla

Dwolla



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Best for ACH payments.

Dwolla is unlike the other vendors on this list in that it’s a niche solution rather than a comprehensive payments platform. Dwolla deals exclusively in automated clearing house (ACH) payments, which are used for B2B and recurring transactions in the U.S.

If you’re happy with your payment processor and just looking to add ACH payment capability, or you’re running a frugal business that can get by without taking credit or debit card payments, Dwolla can provide a good amount of value at a low cost. For no monthly fee, you’ll be able to process ACH payments for a reasonable fee of 0.5% per transaction (maximum $5).

The only real downside to Dwolla is it doesn’t scale smoothly. While the default plan is pay-as-you-go, you’ll be stuck with limited customer services options. The “Scale” plan, on the other hand, offers full customer service and a host of additional features – but costs a jaw-dropping $2,000/month.

Pros

  • Pay-as-you-go ACH processing
  • Good developer tools
  • White-label payment solutions are available

Cons

  • No credit or debit card processing
  • Paid plans are very expensive
  • Only available in the United States

Get Started with Dwolla

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6. Adyen

Adyen



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Best for high-volume businesses.

Best known for luring eBay away from PayPal, Adyen can be a great choice if you’re also looking for an alternative to PayPal’s confusing rate plans and high processing rates. Although it’s known for serving prominent companies like Groupon and Etsy, Ayden is also available to smaller businesses as well.

Unlike the payment services providers we’ve profiled above, Adyen offers full-service merchant accounts. However, the company will implement holds or terminate an account if it exceeds a 0.5% chargeback rate – half the industry standard. This restriction makes it unsuitable for most high-risk merchants. Very small businesses will also have difficulty meeting the company’s monthly minimum of 1,000 transactions or $120 per month in processing fees. Adyen uses a blended interchange-plus and flat-rate system depending on the type of transaction: 0.6% + $0.12 markup for Visa, Mastercard, and Discover; 3.95% + $0.12 for Amex; $0.25 + $0.12 (totaling $0.37) for ACH Direct Debit.

However, when you get past those concerns, you’ll find that Adyen is most similar to Stripe in its global reach and support for localized payment methods across Europe, the Asia-Pacific region, and North and South America. Adyen even supports PayPal transactions, which is something rarely available from companies not owned by PayPal. There’s a decent list of supported partners and integrations, though unsurprisingly, you’ll find many of them are tailored to enterprise-scale businesses.

Pros

  • Ideal for international merchants
  • No setup or application fees
  • No monthly fees

Cons

  • Required monthly minimum
  • Not for high-risk merchants
  • Mixed customer reviews

Read our in-depth review

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7. Dharma Merchant Services

Dharma Merchant Services



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Best for nonprofit businesses.

Dharma Merchant Services is unique in the world of credit card processing companies in that it donates a significant percentage of its profits to charity. Related to that, Dharma provides discounted rates for nonprofit businesses. While many believe that nonprofits get the best rates with a software specialist, such as Blackbaud Merchant Services, Dharma provides much lower discount rates and better service.

Dharma’s fee structure is transparent — it uses interchange-plus pricing exclusively and has no annual account fees. This includes OptBlue pricing for accepting American Express transactions.

In general, Dharma charges:

  • In-Person: Interchange + 0.15% + $0.08 per transaction
  • Online: Interchange + 0.20% + $0.11 per transaction

The rates get lower for those who process more than $100,000 per month.

Nonprofits that accept credit cards with Dharma pay a markup of only 0.10% + $0.11 markup for virtual and 0.10% + $0.08 for in-person payments. And Dharma Merchant Services will meet or beat your current rate to win your business; rates are always negotiable in this industry.

The company also doesn’t charge account update fees, early termination fees, PCI compliance fees, or require a monthly minimum. Fees that it does charge are fully disclosed on its website. This is a company that strives to do the right thing with all its business practices.

Pros

  • Interchange-plus pricing offered exclusively
  • No annual fee or monthly minimum
  • Discounted pricing for qualified nonprofit companies

Cons

  • Not recommended for businesses processing less than $10,000 per month
  • Only available in the United States

Get Started with Dharma Merchant Services

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8. PaymentCloud

PaymentCloud



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Best for high-risk businesses.

If your PayPal account was shut down due to high-risk activity, you’re most likely going to need a full-service merchant account from a company that specializes in serving the high-risk community. One of the best choices in this category is PaymentCloud. Like most high-risk specialists, the company works with a network of third-party processors and acquiring banks to get you approved for an account. You’ll need to obtain a customized pricing quote, but merchants’ feedback indicates that PaymentCloud’s fees and rates are quite reasonable. Best of all, the company does the extra work required to accept a high-risk account without charging you any application or account setup fees.

For retail merchants, PaymentCloud now provides a “free” EMV-compliant credit card terminal with each account — it’s free so long as you return it if you close your account or switch providers. PaymentCloud also offers eCommerce merchants access to either Authorize.Net or one of several alternative third-party payment gateways. A free virtual terminal is also available with each account. While its lineup of products and services isn’t as robust as some other providers, it offers all the essentials you’ll need for a small or medium-sized business.

PaymentCloud enjoys a great online reputation, with both our readers and merchants on other sites giving the company a positive endorsement. Low-risk providers such as Dharma Merchant Services and Stripe Payments routinely refer high-risk applicants to PaymentCloud. Recommendations from such highly regarded providers carry a lot of weight with us.

Pros

  • Accepts high-risk merchants
  • No account setup fee
  • Excellent customer support
  • Few public complaints

Cons

  • No publicly disclosed pricing

Get Started with PaymentCloud

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3 More Great Alternatives To PayPal

Need more alternatives to PayPal but don’t necessarily need a full payment processor? Check out these additional competitors.

1. Wise (Formerly TransferWise)

TransferWise



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Best for international money transfers.

Wise (formerly TransferWise) is an international money transfer service based in London. Wise takes an unusual approach to the longstanding problem of expensive currency conversions by maintaining pools of currency into which customers can deposit one local currency and withdraw another.

Wise’s transfer fees are significantly lower than what you’d typically see for international transactions. Fees are variable but reasonable, ranging between 0.4% and 1.4% of the amount transferred. If you want a better idea of what a transaction will cost you, head over to their website and use their fee calculator (you don’t have to have an account).

While it’s not meant for commerce in the same way that PayPal is, Wise can fill an important niche in international P2P transfers.

Pros

  • Easy online account setup
  • No minimum transfer amounts
  • Low, transparent fees
  • Mid-market exchange rates with no markup
  • Excellent customer service

Cons

  • Slower than traditional transfer services
  • No local cash pickup options
  • Occasional account terminations

Get Started with TransferWise

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2. Zelle

Zelle



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Best for instant bank transfers.

Zelle is one of the newer kids on the block and the product of an unlikely alliance between some of the biggest banks in the United States. Zelle, previously clearXchange, is a P2P payment service.

If you’re a merchant considering Zelle, you should know that the service is oriented around bank-to-bank payments rather than card payments. This puts Zelle in a similar category to PayPal’s P2P functionality, Venmo, and Cash App. However, the aforementioned banking alliance gives Zelle one distinct advantage over its competitors by allowing banks to transfer directly to each other without the middle step of holding the funds in your P2P account. This makes Zelle potentially much faster for bank-to-bank transfers. Zelle also offers B2B accounts, but not every bank partnered with the app supports this feature. Zelle doesn’t charge fees for transfers.

Zelle seems to represent an effort by banks to circumvent both credit card interchange fees and competitors in the P2P market. While the service is still a little bit niche, it seems like it may have a lot of potential for businesses looking to minimize transaction fees.

Pros

  • Fast, direct bank-to-bank transfers
  • Free transfers
  • Easy setup

Cons

  • Limited by participating banks
  • Not all partnered banks currently support B2B

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3. Venmo

Venmo



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Best for freelancers and independent contractors.

If you’ve become frustrated by PayPal’s complex pricing plans and high processing rates, you might be a little skeptical about Venmo because it’s owned by, um, PayPal. However, Venmo offers a rather basic payment processing service for merchants that can be more affordable than using a payment service provider or signing up for a full-service merchant account.

Once you’ve set up a Venmo Business Profile, you’ll be able to take in-person transactions from customers who have the Venmo app on their smartphones by using QR codes. Processing costs a flat 1.9% + $0.10 per transaction, with funds being deposited into your Venmo account. Online transactions are a little more complicated, requiring you to sign up for a payment gateway from Braintree (also a PayPal-owned company). This allows you to set up a ‘Pay With Venmo’ button on your website that customers can use to complete their purchases. Processing rates are 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction.

Although there are no monthly fees, some limits apply. You won’t be able to process more than $6,999.99 per week (this works out to a little over $30,000 per month), and a single transaction cannot exceed $2,999.99. Because the service is designed to work using your customers’ Venmo accounts, there is no option for an actual card reader or credit card terminal.

With these limitations in mind, Venmo works best as a backup method of payment acceptance. However, some businesses will find that it’s really the only thing they need to offer their customers a non-cash payment alternative. For more information, please see our article, The Complete Guide To Using Venmo For Business: Fees, Features, & How To Get Started.

Pros

  • Predictable flat-rate pricing
  • No monthly account fee
  • Supports QR code & contactless payments

Cons

  • No card reader or terminal available
  • Volume & transaction size limits apply

Get Started with Venmo

Read our in-depth review

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How To Compare & Find The Best Alternatives To PayPal

PayPal’s strength is in its sheer breadth of features and overall convenience. At the same time, its service plans and pricing are now unduly complex and expensive for a typical small business user. If you’re looking for an alternative, you should ask yourself if you’re looking for a platform to entirely remove PayPal from your life, or if you’re looking to replace some of what PayPal does with a more specialized service.

No PayPal competitor is going to be ideal in every respect. Nonetheless, when considering a payment service provider, you’ll want to choose an option that meets your business’s specific needs without incurring an unacceptable cost. Make a list of where PayPal is letting you down or which features you’d like to have that the company doesn’t provide.

We’d also recommend that merchants avoid any providers that require a long-term commitment. You want to have the freedom to change services when you need to without paying enormous penalties.

What’s The Best PayPal Alternative For My Business?

We hope this article has given you a solid overview of some of the leading payment processing alternatives to PayPal for business. Read our article on our favorite online payment processors for another detailed look at the best merchant account and payment processor options out there.

Naturally, the processor that is the best PayPal alternative for you will depend on the particulars of your business. However, Square has our general recommendation for most small business users. It’s overflowing with features, comes with a free website, and its online processing rates are now lower than PayPal’s. Just keep in mind that using Square, just like using PayPal, Stripe, and any other payment service provider, entails the risk of encountering account holds or terminations due to the strict scrutiny aggregators apply to your transactions. That said, there are other points of differentiation between these providers. Merchant accounts, of course, present their own array of benefits and drawbacks.

And if, after all this, you decide that PayPal might be a fitting choice after all, then have a look at our guide to setting up a PayPal business account.

Whichever way you go, it’s our mission to give you the facts about these services and empower you to make the choice that suits your own unique business needs.

In Summary: The 8 Best Alternatives To PayPal For Payment Processing

  1. Square: Best all-around processor for businesses that want something similar to PayPal.
  2. Shopify: Best for marketplace payments.
  3. Stripe Payments: Best for API & custom integrations.
  4. 2Checkout: Best for international selling.
  5. Dwolla: Best for ACH payments.
  6. Adyen: Best for high-volume businesses.
  7. Dharma Merchant Services: Best for nonprofit businesses.
  8. PaymentCloud: Best for high-risk businesses.

    3 More Great Alternatives To PayPal

  1. TransferWise: Best for international money transfers.
  2. Zelle: Best for instant bank transfers.
  3. Venmo: Best for freelancers and independent contractors.
Frank Kehl

Frank Kehl

Expert Analyst & Reviewer at Merchant Maverick
Frank Kehl has been researching and analyzing merchant services, payment gateways, and international money transfer services since 2015. He has a Bachelor of Science degree from Penn State and a Juris Doctorate from the Ventura College of Law.
Frank Kehl
View Frank Kehl's professional experience on LinkedIn.

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