Nintendo's Celebrating Kid Icarus: Uprising With a Tournament

If you didn’t know Kid Icarus: Uprising had a multiplayer component, Nintendo wants to remind you of it with a national multiplayer tournament!

Gamestops in four major cities across the US will be holding regional tournaments throughout March using the game’s 3 vs. 3 versus mode: San Fransisco on March 8, Orlando on March 11, Los Angeles on March 15, and New York City on March 22. The finalists will head for the Gamestop on Broadway and 84th in New York City on March 22. While the winners will receive an assortment of Kid Icarus swag, all finalists who attend will be able to purchase a copy of Kid Icarus: Uprising a full day before its official release. Spectators will also be able to get some hands on time with the game before the game launches on the 3DS.

And imagine, all this new found glory and attention after appearing in a modernized form on Smash Bros. Brawl!

via Ripten

Enhanced by Zemanta

Banking with the home team: Small institutions bring personal touch to finances.(Business Times)

The Washington Times (Washington, DC) February 24, 1997 | Marriott, Anne Sparked by technology and regulatory reforms, consolidation has drastically changed the face of banking the past three years, forcing community banks to create a role for themselves in the era of megabanks.

In their fight for survival, especially in tough markets such as Washington, community banks must provide the high level of personal service not afforded by the big banks while keeping pace with the technological advances consumers have come to expect from their financial institutions.

“Being a small bank in a big city like Washington is very different than being a small bank in a rural area,” said Barbara Davis Blum, the chairman and chief executive of Abigail Adams National Bank. “It’s different in the market approach, the level of sophistication and the delivery of services.” Part of that sophistication is understanding the local market and carving a niche to meet customers’ needs rather than forcing them to adapt to a corporate philosophy the way the big banks do.

Adams National caters to women and minorities. Patriot National has a reputation as a small-business lender. First Virginia is known for its car loans. Others in the area also have worked hard to distinguish themselves from banking’s standard fare.

Although there are varied definitions, community banks generally are regarded as financial institutions with assets ranging from a few million dollars to almost $1 billion. They tend to specialize in consumer accounts or small-business lending, have only a few branches, and don’t want to grow much past their neighborhoods.

Basic economics generally mean larger banks can provide credit card and mutual fund services with ease.

But community banks said the one thing the big boys can’t do is provide neighborly service – everything from knowing a customer’s name when he walks through the door to making loans to someone who doesn’t fit the cookie-cutter criteria set by the big banks.

For all of that, community bankers realize it’s technology that’s spurring change within the industry, and without it, their business will suffer. Services such as computer and telephone banking, thought to be luxuries five years ago, are considered standard in the Washington market, they said.

“The key for a community bank to be successful is to be technologically competent in terms of providing technology that consumers have come to expect,” said Terrie Spiro, the president and chief executive of Tysons National Bank, which has three branches.

While community banks cannot afford to be technological leaders – that responsibility falls to the Citibanks and Wells Fargos of the world – they must listen for the “bells and whistles” of innovation, she said.

That’s just as true for banks with $25 million in assets as for banks with close to $1 billion in assets, several bankers said. Consumers generally give de novos, or start-up banks, three years before they expect high-tech services.

Banking changed drastically three years ago when Congress passed the Riegel-Neal Interstate Banking and Branching Act, which sparked the rapid consolidation experts believe ultimately will split the industry into two groups: the behemoth Chase Manhattans and the local Burke and Herberts.

Many experts said they do not expect regional banks such as Crestar and Signet to survive the consolidation push, especially as larger banks make more aggressive attempts to become the country’s financial leader. NationsBank, for example, pushed into the Midwest last summer with the $8.7 billion acquisition of Boatmen’s Bancshares, and there are rumors that the Charlotte, N.C.-based bank will merge soon with either BankAmerica or Wells Fargo. go to website citibank sign on

As the consolidation goes on, the demand for small financial institutions is expected to continue. But even top executives at the Independent Bankers Association of America said they expect the number of community banks to fall to about 5,500 from the current 8,000 over five years.

More than 20 local banks have disappeared because of mergers, the most recent of which was Crestar’s $774 million acquisition of Laurel-based Citizens Bank. That merger, which closed Dec. 31, made Crestar stronger, but it also made the Richmond-based bank a more attractive takeover target, analysts said.

“We’re going to this barbell look in the banking industry, with all of the big banks on one end,” Mrs. Spiro said. “Then you’re going to see at the other end banks that are really super community banks. All of the stuff in between is going to disappear.” Ken Guenther, the executive vice president of the Independent Bankers Association of America (IBAA) in the District, agrees that the industry is moving toward a two-tier system rather than the three distinct divisions it now has.

“The banking industry is in the midst of a major merger-and-consolidation wave,” he said, adding that when the dust settles there will be about 20 large banks with a national reach, followed by a handful of middle-tier banks and thousands of community banks.

John Bond, the chief executive of Columbia Bank, left the world of big banking 10 years ago because he wanted to be more in control of his future. At the helm of a community bank, where his office is just two floors above the bank’s parking lot, he says he can ensure that the high quality necessary to prosper is given to his customers.

“If people want a McDonald’s type product with banking, then they are just as well off going to a larger bank like NationsBank,” Mr. Bond said. “If [they] want individualized attention, [they’re] better off coming to us.” There’s an unwritten rule that small banks stick together. That bond will only strengthen in the next few years as community banks wander into financial services traditionally reserved for larger corporations, such as credit cards, mutual funds and insurance.

The IBAA recently launched Total Credit Management Bank in St. Petersburg, Fla., to help community banks compete more efficiently with larger banks. A group of 2,000 community banks will have a stake in TCM, which initially will service 2 million card holders.

“It really boils down to service,” said Bernard Clineberg, chief executive of George Mason Bank. “And there will always be a segment of the community that wants to deal with people who live and work in their community.” The lack of attention from big banks has significantly increased community banks’ business the past three years. Customers frustrated by the serial approach to banking are taking their dollars elsewhere.

Robert Pincus, the president and chief executive of Franklin Bancorp, noted that his Washington-based bank had $40 million in assets five years ago when he came aboard. Now it has $497 million, money “that had to come from somewhere,” he said.

But not everything is rosy for community banks. They face the possibility that financial-services reform, being debated on Capitol Hill, will open the field to many more competitors. Proposals under discussion would permanently alter the banking landscape by allowing insurance companies, brokerage houses and even corporations such as Microsoft to enter the business.

At hearings on the subject this month, Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan cautioned against giving banks too much rope as Congress breaks down some of the barriers that separate banks from insurance companies and brokerage houses. website citibank sign on

But community bankers don’t agree.

“There seems to be a recognition that the framework of law and regulation should encourage diversity and permit banking companies of all sizes to spread their wings and offer a broader array of services,” said Paul Schosberg, the president of America’s Community Bankers in the District.

Competition among community banks is fiercer than ever, in part because people have discovered that “banking is a very good business to be in,” Mr. Schosberg said. “The walls are coming down, and the distinctions are blurring.” While community banks battle one another for customers, especially as the growing economy encourages start-up banks, they must deal with credit unions that advertise they are competitive with banks.

The long-standing feud between the two types of financial institutions picked up steam last fall when a federal judge ruled that the National Credit Union Administration, the federal agency that regulates the industry, did not have the authority to allow credit unions to expand their memberships past their original charters.

More so than the large banks, credit unions pose a threat to community banks in the Washington area because of their ability to offer better loan rates and higher savings yields.

Credit unions say they can do this because they don’t have banks’ high corporate overhead. Banks say credit unions have an unfair advantage because they don’t have to pay taxes.

Although some members of Congress have hinted at reducing taxes for smaller financial institutions, bankers say that change wouldn’t eliminate the credit unions’ advantage.

“You have to even the playing field, that’s all anybody wants,” Ms. Blum said. “We can’t compete if our hands are tied behind our backs. We’re not afraid of competition. But you can’t say, `I’ll give you apples, and I’ll give them oranges.’ It just doesn’t work.” But many bankers privately say the credit unions have little impact on their business: Credit unions are not stealing customers and don’t offer such superior rates that community banks will be forced to close because of the competition.

****CHART (COLOR) THE NUMBERS GAME Although some industry groups put the number of community banks as high as 8,000 nationwide, America’s Community Bankers in the District said there were 1,964 banks with more than $1 trillion in total assets as of September. That’s down from 2,901 banks with $1.3 trillion in total assets in December 1990.

NUMBER OF COMMUNITY BANKS 1996: 1,964 COMMUNITY BANKS’ ASSETS 1996: $1.0 trillion Source: America’s Community Bankers Marriott, Anne