Venezuela: Petro Can Be Converted Into Any Cryptocurrency If Bought This Year

The Venezuelan government has announced that its national digital currency, the petro, can be exchanged into any cryptocurrency if purchased this year. However, the wallet for the petro is still not available and petro buyers receive certificates of purchase.
Also read: Yahoo! Japan Confirms Entrance Into the Crypto Space
‘Special Period’
Venezuela’s president, Nicolas Maduro, visited the headquarters of the Superintendency of Cryptoassets and Related Activities (Sunacrip) last week to sign up for a petro savings plan, the Ministry of Popular Power for Communication and Information (Minci) announced.
Minci is dedicated to promoting the government and communicating its message to the public. Sunacrip is responsible for regulating all crypto-related activities in Venezuela.
During his visit, Maduro offered a new incentive for people to purchase his country’s national digital currency. El Nacional quoted him as saying:

Anyone who buys petro [from now] until December 31 can convert it into any digital currency or international convertible currency, such as bitcoin or yuan.

He was further quoted by Minci elaborating that “in this special period, from now until December 31,” the petro can be converted and “then in December you can buy what you want, through the internet.”
The petro savings plan was launched on Nov. 5. It can be redeemed after 90 days, 180 days, and 270 days, according to Tarek El Aissami, the country’s economic minister and former vice president. “Within three months I will receive what the petro is worth at the time,” Maduro said.
Buying the Petro
According to Sunacrip, a number of Venezuelans and government officials have purchased the petro since it went on sale on Oct. 29. Purchasers need to complete know-your-customer (KYC) requirements which include being fingerprinted before they are issued a petro certificate of purchase.
Two petro buyers — Omar Prieto, Governor of Zulia, being photographed while holding his ID (left). Manuel Quevedo, Minister of Petroleum, putting his fingerprint on his petro certificate (right).
Meanwhile, the petro currently does not have any of the usual hallmarks of a cryptocurrency. The official wallet for the petro is still unavailable. Links on the official petro website to download both the Windows and Linux wallets return the message “This wallet will soon be available for your operating system.” In addition, El Aissami explained that the Android app for the petro wallet, previously available in the Google Play store, has been removed by Google.

Furthermore, there is no code repository with the Petro code available to the public, so independent confirmation of its existence or functionality is impossible. There are also no published charts or data showing the health of the Petro network, such as network activity, confirmation times, transaction throughput, mining hashrate, or other basic cryptocurrency statistics.
Despite the petro’s whitepaper describing a block time of one block per minute on average, the government’s own block explorer shows only 743 total blocks at the time of this writing — over a month after the explorer was published and its first block displayed.
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Do you think the petro can be converted into any cryptocurrency like the Venezuelan government promises? Let us know in the comments section below.

Images courtesy of Shutterstock and the Venezuelan government.

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US Man Fined $1.1 Million, Sentenced to 15 Months for Fraudulent Bitcoin, Litecoin Schemes

U.S. citizen Joseph Kim of Phoenix, Arizona has been fined $1.1 million and sentenced to 15 months in jail for misappropriating Bitcoin (BTC) and Litecoin (LTC) from several people, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) reports Friday, Nov. 9.

The CFTC found out that Kim defrauded his employer, a Chicago-based proprietary trading firm, transferring approximately $601,000 worth amount of BTC and LTC to his own accounts in 2017. When asked about missing cryptocurrencies, Kim falsely claimed that security issues made him transfer digital currencies to several accounts. Shortly after, the misappropriation was discovered and Kim was fired.

Kim reportedly then defrauded private investors in order to return funds to his employer. According to the CFTC, he lured around $545,000 worth of cryptocurrencies from five individuals, falsely stating that he had left the company voluntarily to start his own trading company. Kim later lost all the investors’ funds following a high-risk bet.

Given the circumstances of the case, the CFTC has ordered Kim to pay $1.1 million in restitution to his company and customers. Moreover, the commission has imposed a permanent trading and solicitation ban on him.

In a separate criminal action brought by the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, Kim pleaded guilty to defrauding his employer and misappropriating private investors’ funds, and has received a 15 month sentence.

The CFTC Director of Enforcement, James McDonald, says the commission will continue to cooperate with the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) and the FBI in order to prevent crypto-related crimes.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) charged Zachary Coburn, the founder of crypto token trading platform EtherDelta, with operating an unregistered securities exchange. He agreed to pay up to $400,000 in fines for an 18 month operating period.

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Swiss AI-Powered Stablecoin Becomes Halal to Attract Muslim Investors

Islamic finance

Sharia-compliance finance is becoming a field of choice for several fintech companies as regulators and market participants in the Middle East seem keen on attracting new business. Now, Swiss-based cryptocurrency firm X8 has become the latest to acquire an Islamic finance certification.

Islamic Finance Certified for Mid-East Expansion

X8 AG, a cryptocurrency and fintech startup based in Switzerland, has managed to obtain a certification for its digital currency from the Shariyah Review Bureau (SRB) – an Islamic advisory firm which is fully licensed by the central bank of Bahrain, Reuters reports. The move is supposedly part of its plans to expand towards the Middle East.

SRB has also recently issued a certification to Stellar and its cryptocurrency Lumens (XLM) 00.

Speaking on the matter was Francesca Greco, X8’s director and co-founder, who noted:

The Gulf region is a really good place for financial technology companies, because they all want to become hubs for fintech.

According to Greco, the region has managed to create a somewhat welcoming environment for fintech companies, while also being wary of cryptocurrencies. Purportedly, though, this gives an opportunity for stablecoins to thrive.

It’s worth noting that X8 has issued a cryptocurrency called X8X token 00 based on the Ethereum network, which is supposedly backed by eight fiat currencies and gold.

Pumpcoin’s Broad Buzzword Dictionary

X8’s cryptocurrency, however, turns out to be a tad bit more complicated than you might expect. Apparently, the company issues both X8X utility tokens (X8X) and X8 Currency (X8C). Of both, only the former is listed on CoinMarketCap. The second one is the stablecoin in question.

According to the company’s website, their “currency” (X8C) is managed by financial Artificial Intelligence (AI) and features things such as Automatic Reserve Management (ARM).

As if that’s not enough, the website also labels it as the “most stable Crypto Currency.” To top it all up, the currency is now Shariyah-compliant as well.

Unfortunately, this stablecoin can only be traded if the user holds the corresponding amount of the company’s utility token (X8X). Interestingly enough, according to the project’s official website, the utility token, the sole function of which is to enable X8C trading, is already available for buying while the stablecoin is “coming soon.”

What do you think of fiat-backed stablecoins? Don’t hesitate to let us know in the comments below!

Images courtesy of Shutterstock; CoinMarketCap.

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Namibian Bitcoin Trading Platform BTN Perseveres Despite Partial Crypto Ban

Bitcoin Trade Namibia (BTN), an emerging bitcoin marketplace, is trying to make things work for Namibians keen on investing in digital assets, even though it could take up to three days before buy orders are settled. However, in an industry where government forces crave control, the delay looks like it should be worth the wait.
Also Read: Iran Completes Development of Rial-Supported National Cryptocurrency
Namibia’s Investor-Centric Marketplace

BTN has adopted the know-your-customer and anti-money laundering requirements of the Bank of Namibia (BoN), the  country’s central bank, giving it a chance of survival in an economy where the commercial use of cryptocurrency is banned.
“The idea is to provide a safe and secure on and off ramp for bitcoin for Namibians who have expressed increasing interest … in the cryptocurrency,” Tshuutheni Emvula, co-founder and chief executive officer of BTN, told “We are of the opinion that bitcoin, at its fully realized potential, provides the Namibian entrepreneur and consumer the perfect open payment mechanism for a digitally connected world.”
Emvula said it will be “a long road” before that is achieved, but “it starts with Namibians being able to participate in the network’s activities by actually owning BTC. Through direct ownership, greater interest in BTC and its ecosystem on behalf of the owner is incentivized.”
Founded in March this year by a group of software developers, Bitcoin Trade Namibia touts itself as a “non-speculative BTC marketplace,” that allows people in the southern African country a platform “that does not work as an exchange” to buy and sell bitcoin using the local Namibian dollar.
Tshuutheni Emvula
Buyers transfer money to a BTN bank account number in exchange for BTC, which is sent to an address of their choice. The opposite is true for sales, on fees of about 2 percent for transactions that do not exceed 150,000 Namibian dollars (U.S. $10,500). The process for purchases can last up to 72 hours in the worst case scenario, although BTC delivery is generally completed within three hours of fiat deposit on the average. At press time, each bitcoin traded at 98,769 Namibian dollars (U.S. $6,913), a premium of about 9 percent on the global average price.
Refusing to discuss user numbers and traded volume, Emvula stated:
We do not keep or store any bitcoin on behalf of users. We do not have an open order book which allows users to trade bitcoin with each other. We provide buy and sell services on an individual client basis. However, BTN is working with institutional investors on issues of custodianship but these services are not open to our low volume and casual customers at this point.
Cryptocurrency Ban
Namibia officially banned the use of cryptocurrencies for commercial purposes in 2017. The Bank of Namibia did not specify penalties for violating the prohibition, but warned that “a local shop is not allowed to price or accept virtual currencies in exchange for goods and services.”

It said only that the Namibian dollar and South Africa Rand remained legal tender in the country, but remained open to possibilities offered by blockchain technology. Even though cryptocurrency-related activities remain very limited in Namibia, the central bank’s main concern centered around exchange control violations and issues of creation of money, which it said was its sole mandate.
Emvula, the BTN chief executive officer, believes BoN’s stance has been misunderstood. He detailed:
The myth that cryptocurrency is banned in Namibia is perpetuated by bad research and FUD. A look at the position papers released by the Bank of Namibia will correctly inform the reader that the bank warns Namibian nationals of the dangers of cryptocurrency due to their non-regulation. Nowhere do they mention that they actively prohibit the trading of cryptocurrencies.
Bitcoin Trade Namibia has yielded to the KYC/AML requirements placed on operators of financial services by BoN, something that has clearly aided the platform’s cause in an economy where digital assets are operating under caution. On security, Emvula said: “Given that we do not store investor funds, other major vectors of attack would come in the form of risky traders and we ensure to review each of our trades in the relevant manner as directed by our compliance policy and Namibian law.”
What do you think about Bitcoin Trade Namibia’s business model? Let us know in the comments section  below.

Images courtesy of Shutterstock.

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Gitcoin Introduces Collectible “Kudos” Rewards

Gitcoin Introduces Collectible “Kudos” Rewards

Gitcoin, a development bounty site, has introduced a new type of reward for its users to circulate. The site has traditionally hosted open source projects and rewarded developers who work on those projects with Ethereum tokens. Now, Gitcoin will offer Kudos, which are essentially thank you cards on the blockchain with custom artwork.

What is GItcoin?

Gitcoin serves as a community development board. The platform’s users can post an issue to the site and fund it with crypto. When a developer takes on that issue, Gitcoin will pay out crypto rewards to that developer. Until recently, Gitcoin only allowed its users to use ETH and ERC-20 tokens as rewards. These are standard cryptocurrency tokens, which are interchangeable and can be used as money.

By comparison, the new Kudos rewards are non-fungible ERC-721 tokens. Unlike most tokens, these tokens cannot be used as a currency and are meant to be collected. This type of token made its debut in Cryptokitties last year, but its use has spread significantly.

“Here at Gitcoin we believe in the potential of [non-fungible tokens], so we created our own,” the site explains.

Each Kudos token is unique and can be verified on the blockchain — it is a gift that carries sentimental value in addition to monetary value. Besides expressing one’s gratitude, Kudos tokens also serve as a badge that describes someone’s particular skill set. Various tokens that represent developer specialties are available, such as Bug Eliminator or Design Star.

The money spent on each Kudos token is given to the artist who designed it — a further contribution to the Ethereum ecosystem. Although the token representing each Kudos is unique, the design is not necessarily unique, as artists can create limited production runs. This keeps Kudos tokens inexpensive (priced at less than a dollar), but also allows artists to earn a significant amount of money by selling hundreds of tokens per design.

The project also has a lot of room for growth and partnerships. Those who wish to design Kudos can post their ideas to the project’s Github page. The project is also seeking out developers who are interested in integrating Kudos tokens with their apps in the future.

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Cryptocurrency ATM Growth Spikes Exponentially to 4,000 Machines Worldwide

According to global statistics provided by, there are now close to 4,000 cryptocurrency automated teller machines (ATMs). Moreover, there’s been a huge influx of bitcoin cash ATMs over the past year as there are now 1,200 BCH dispensing devices located around the world.
Also read: Markets Update: All Eyes on Bitcoin Cash Prices Before the Pending Fork
The Rise of Digital Asset ATMs
There are various ways people can purchase bitcoin cash and a slew of other cryptocurrencies around the world and one of them is through the use of ATMs. Digital asset dispensing ATMs have been popular since they were first introduced, and over the past two years, their worldwide growth has been exponential.

In November, data from shows the metric will likely reach 4,000 ATMs very soon as the current number of ATMs is 3,993 machines worldwide. Additionally, there are 141,000 ATM-like services that sell cryptocurrencies through mobile payment terminals, vouchers, and even traditional bank ATMs. 1,200 machines out of the world’s 4,000 units allow users to purchase and sell the decentralized currency bitcoin cash.
Map of bitcoin cash ATMs worldwide.
The analytical website also details some interesting data concerning cryptocurrency ATM growth worldwide such as the fact that there are 6.7 crypto ATMs installed a day. This metric is based on the speed of installations over the last seven days and gauged by the calculations of the last two months. Over 71% of the world’s cryptocurrency ATMs reside in North America while the second largest number of machines (23.5%) are located in Europe. This is followed by Asia (2.5%), Oceania (1.3%), South America (0.98%), and Africa (0.20%). The most bitcoin cash ATMs stem from North America, with 993 of them located on the continent.
Number of cryptocurrency ATMs installed over time.
Recent Study Suggests Cryptocurrency ATM Ecosystem May Grow Over 50% per Year
The biggest digital asset ATM manufacturer today is Genesis Coin which captures 32% of the market share of all machines. General Bytes comes in a close second with 29.2% and then Lamassu (10.9%), Bitaccess (5.4%), Coinsource (4.8%), and Covault (2.7%). Out of all the crypto ATMs worldwide, 61.7% of the machines are one-way devices, which means they only sell cryptocurrencies. Only 38.2% of all virtual currency ATMs are two-way machines, meaning that they not only sell cryptocurrencies but also buy them.

Cryptocurrency ATMs have spread like wildfire and operators and manufacturers do not appear to be slowing down anytime soon. For instance, Lamassu recently introduced a new line of machines. The company launched the “Sintra” series, which includes four models that support BCH, LTC, DASH, ETH, ZEC, and BTC. Furthermore, on Nov. 2, reported on Coinsource being the first crypto ATM provider to be awarded the Bitlicense to operate in the state of New York. Lastly, according to a recent study by research firm Marketsandmarkets, crypto ATMs will see a compounded annual growth rate of over 54%.
What do you think about the growth of cryptocurrency ATMs worldwide? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.

Images via Pixabay, Shutterstock, and

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New Exchange Security Scoring Model Offers Insurance Rates for Coin Holders

International cybersecurity solutions provider Group-IB has come up with a scoring model to grade crypto exchanges based on their level of security.The scoring model was created by Group-IB in conjunction with Swiss-based Cryptolns (which is operated by Swiss insurance broker APIS AS), and the grading is intrinsic to CryptoIns’ new cryptocurrency exchange insurance, which will allow exchange users to cover up to 15 BTC worth of digital assets held in their exchange accounts. With the scoring model’s data, CryptoIns has calculated rates for their coverage depending on an exchange’s level of security and asset-protection measures.This insurance will be available for assets held on leading exchanges like Binance, OKEx, Kraken and Huobi, while a full list can be found on CryptoIns’ website.“Currently, approximately 3,600,000 BTC are stored in user accounts on cryptocurrency exchanges, making this market highly attractive for hackers,” Timofey Volkov, CEO of CryptoIns, explained.Per a recent Forbes article, crypto exchanges are attractive to hackers due to their design: They have a centralized single point of failure, making them prone to the same problems faced by millions of web applications globally. This is where the assessment from Group-IB gets interesting for the investor.The grading from Group-IB took the exchanges’ architecture and infrastructure into consideration to better understand the mechanisms used in countering potential threats. While developing the framework for its insurance policy, Cryptolns revealed that it assessed a number of exchanges using various parameters, including “the level of technical security [and] the reliability of key storage, password, and personal data of customers provided by each exchange.” Explaining the challenges faced by insurers in the crypto industry, Volkov stated that:“Collaboration with one of the leading international cybersecurity companies will help us organize and conduct pre-insurance evaluations of the exchanges in order to assess their security, as well as the potential for fraudulent activities on the part of the founders and management.”Risk GroupsThe scoring by CryptoIns also sorted exchanges into four risk groups based on aggregated information which includes “assessment of traded volume, traders’ activity, internal fees and other characteristics.” Exchanges categorized in the first group were graded as being the least vulnerable, second and third were “rated satisfactory and low in security risk,” while those in the fourth group were deemed to be overly risky, with the company saying it won’t provide insurance for such exchanges.Base insurance rates are put at 2.5 percent per quarter. Each of the groups was entitled to different discounts with the maximum being a 50 percent discount, the report states.According to CryptoIns’ insurance calculator on its website, U.S.-based cryptocurrency exchange Kraken ranks as the safest digital asset platform with a lower cost of insuring assets. It costs users 0.0125 BTC for every 1 BTC stored on Kraken at a 1.25 percent insurance rate. The same 1 BTC will be insured on Binance and Bibox for 0.019 BTC and 0.025 BTC, respectively.Falling under the overly risky group were exchanges like Yobit which emerged as the least secure. Other less-secure exchanges, according to the list, were Zaif, Bitstamp, Bit-Z and TopBTC.Cyber threats on crypto exchanges have become a recurring event. In September 2018, Japanese digital assets platform Zaif reportedly lost $59 million due to a security breach on its system. Bithumb, CoinGrail and BitGrail all lost $30 million, $40 million and $195 million, respectively, earlier in the year.

This article originally appeared on BitcoinLinux.

Trader Jailed and Fined Over $1 Million for Bitcoin and Litecoin Fraud Scheme

The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) issued a press release on Friday, November 9, 2018, stating that it had fined Arizona resident Joseph Kim for perpetrating a fraudulent cryptocurrency trading scheme against his former employer and other investors. The same day, a District Court in the Northern District of Illinois sentenced Kim to 15 months on wire fraud charges.Misappropriating Employer’s FundsAccording to the release, Kim had misappropriated his employer’s funds between September and November 2017. Kim, who was employed by a Chicago-based trading firm at the time, had transferred the company’s tokens from the cryptocurrency exchange where they were kept into his wallet address. When questioned about the illegal transfers, Kim falsely stated that the platform’s security issues were the reason why the tokens were moved. The firm discovered the misappropriation of funds in November 2017; by then, Kim had lost approximately $601,000 of the company’s funds. The company subsequently fired him.Defrauding InvestorsKim then went out to solicit investment funds from unsuspecting investors, telling them he had left his former employer willingly to start a company of his own. After falsely informing investors he had a “low-risk virtual currency arbitrage strategy,” he got at least five investors, who gave him approximately $545,000 to invest in the crypto market. Kim made poor investment decisions, leading to a total wipeout of his clients’ investments. Again, he concealed the losses, going so far as to falsify account statements sent to investors, which reflected profits where there were none.FinesThe CFTC fined Kim $1.146 million, to be paid as restitution to his former employer and his investors. The agency has also imposed on Kim a permanent trading and registration ban for crypto trading and for soliciting of funds.Director of Enforcement James McDonald calls the order issued against Kim evidence of the agency’s “commitment to actively police the virtual currency markets and protect the public interest.”The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has also been busy ramping up its enforcement against fraudulent schemes in the industry. Just last week, the SEC charged crypto exchange EtherDelta with running an “unregistered national securities exchange.” The agency also went after TokenLot LLC and Crypto Asset Management LP for registration failures in September 2018. Its brokerage arm, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), had a taste of the crypto industry, when it went after publicly traded company Rocky Mountain Ayre Inc. (RMTN) and its CEO, Timothy Tilton Ayre, charging him with the “unlawful distribution of an unregistered security.”

This article originally appeared on BitcoinLinux.

Riding on Coinbase Listing Update, Stellar Gains Fifth Spot Leaving Behind EOS

Stellar Lumens or XLM has become the fifth largest cryptocurrency by winning over EOS. It stands with market cap $5,093,506,793 as against $4,915,473,123 of EOS.

Factors leading to Stellar’s win over EOS

  • Coinbase has recently announced the listing of several new assets to its exchange which also includes Stellar. It announces the listing of Cardano (ADA), Basic Attention Token (BAT), Stellar Lumens (XLM), Zcash (ZEC) and Ox (ZRX).
  • Earlier this week, Stellar Development Foundation heads up for the biggest airdrop in crypto history. Interestingly, the total of $125 million worth of Stellar Lumens (XLM) will be released as a give away to its blockchain wallet users. This has definitely risen up the XLM market to interesting highs as more people are showing interest, seeing quite a big fund for giving away.
  • Yet another reason that marks Stellar on top than EOS is “Fake EOS wallet on Google Play”. EOS RIO, EOS developers has been seen warning its users to save from the use of fake version of its App on Google Play, which has negatively affected the volume of EOS cryptocurrency.

Since the market is volatile in nature, one cannot definitely state the literal stand of any cryptocurrency. It is however interesting to see whether the price of Stellar is influenced by $125 million airdrops or Coinbase listing announcement or spotlight of Fake EOS wallet on Google Play.

Will stellar sustain its position against EOS. Let us know in comments below.

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GMO Internet Reports Cryptocurrency Exchange Profit Rose Over 34% in Q3 2018

GMO Internet, the Japanese technology and online finance conglomerate, presented its results for the third quarter of fiscal 2018 on Nov. 12. The presentation included new details about the performance of the Tokyo-listed group’s cryptocurrency-related businesses.
Also Read: The Daily: US Museum to Accept Bitcoin, Estonia Grants License to B2BX Exchange
Record Performance by Quarter
The presentation covers the operations of GMO Internet in cryptocurrency mining, exchange and payments. The company reported total quarterly revenue of 2.61 billion yen ($22.93 million) in the third quarter. It noted that the positive results came “just a year since the launch despite the harsh external environment.”
On the cryptocurrency exchange side of the operation, profit was up 34.4 percent quarter over quarter, from 0.55 billion yen in the second quarter to 0.74 billion yen in the third. It said it posted an increase in profit despite the fact that revenue from the exchange business alone fell slightly from 1.42 billion yen in the second quarter to 1.36 billion yen in the third.
GMO Internet also reported that customer accounts have been growing steadily, reaching 208,000 in the third quarter. However, the trading value has fallen from 220 billion yen to just 89 billion yen ($782.7 million) quarter over quarter.

Aiming For 800PH/s Within 2018
On the cryptocurrency mining side of its business, GMO Internet reported it has increased its human resources during the third quarter of the year. And this helped it increase mining revenue slightly to 1.23 billion yen in the third quarter, from 1.17 billion yen in the preceding three-month period. In contrast, the worsening external environment and increased depreciation costs drove profit down quarter over quarter, from a loss of 0.36 billion yen in the second quarter to a loss of 0.64 billion yen in the third.
The company reported it reached a bitcoin hashing rate of 674 PH/s during the third quarter, for both BCH and BTC. It said it aims to achieve a total of 800 PH/s within the year.
GMO Internet also said that sales of cryptocurrency mining machines have been postponed due to delays in shipments of needed electronic components. In addition, it announced that it is changing the ticker symbol of the yen-pegged stablecoin it launched during the third quarter from GJY to GYEN.
What do you think about the latest GMO Internet quarterly report? Let us know in the comments section below.

Images courtesy of Shutterstock and GMO Internet.

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