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GameStop announced today a multi-year strategic partnership agreement with Microsoft. Under the terms of the deal, GameStop is now an authorized dealer for the Xbox All Access program, which provides an Xbox console and a 24-month pass for Xbox Game Pass Ultimate for no cost upfront.

The agreement further involves what GameStop refers to as a “transformation,” where its individual stores will upgrade to take advantage of Microsoft’s suite of business applications and portable devices.

Now, when you walk into a GameStop store, the sales associates will be equipped with Surface tablets for searching purposes, working with Microsoft Teams, and running the back end with Microsoft’s cloud-based Dynamics 365 suite of applications. In fact, by the terms of the deal as written in GameStop’s press release, it looks less like a partnership and more like Microsoft is sponsoring GameStop as one would a softball team.

“For many years GameStop has been a strong go-to market partner for our gaming products, and we are excited about continuing and evolving that relationship for the launch of the Xbox Series X|S,” Microsoft Xbox chief Phil Spencer said in a statement. “GameStop’s extensive store base, focus on digital transformation in an omni-channel environment and expert gamer associates remain an important part of our gaming ecosystem, and we’re pleased to elevate our partnership.”

The Xbox Series S, left, and the Xbox Series X. (Microsoft Photos)

News of the deal caused GameStop shares to jump 21%, which is enough to qualify this as the first good news that GameStop has received in quite some time. While GameStop is still the single largest video game retailer in the world, with more than 5,000 retail stores worldwide, it was seen as being on a downward spiral even before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Access to financial services is one of the most pressing issues of the modern days. In theory, the modern financial system provides a lot of opportunities and financial services, such as bank accounts, savings, credit, investment products, etc, but in reality larger populace of even most countries do not have access even to the very basic financial services. Investment is even worse in terms of accessibility. 

Traditional finance, unfortunately, can do very little to solve this issue. For example, in the United Kingdom, financial inclusivity is one of the main priorities for the House of Commons Treasury Committee, but in its annual reports the committee admits that the existing situation is not really improving. Regulatory and banks interests don’t allow much to be done outside of direct government sponsorship of very limited programs.  Obviously, such programs are only a palliative solution.

In developing countries the situation is even worse. For example, in Egypt, less than half of registered companies actually work with the banks.

Additionally, in developing countries local banks charge much higher interest due to unstable economic output and access to credit is restricted unduly to mitigate any losses on the local financial institutions. Large banks in developed countries are also unavailable for developing countries residents—partly due to local government policies, partly due to banks’ rules.

This is where fintech tries to help.  

Seeing these gaps in the financial services industry, providing wider access to financial services became the focus of the fintech industry.

Proliferation of cryptocurrencies led to development of a whole plethora of projects and full-fledged ecosystems, whose goal was to ensure easy access to financial products. Money transfers, lending platforms, even investment opportunities—blockchain and cryptocurrency made all of it available for everyone.

DETROIT, Oct. 5, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Earlier this year, Meridian Health, part of WellCare, merged with Centene Corporation, which offers Ambetter Health Insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace. As part of this consolidation, Meridian Choice members will become part of Ambetter from Meridian. Michigan residents can also enroll in Ambetter from Meridian during the next open enrollment period starting November 1, 2020.

“Our members’ health remains our highest priority, and they can expect the same affordable, quality health insurance from us under our new name,” said Sean Kendall, Meridian Plan President and CEO for Michigan. “As Ambetter from Meridian, we’re building upon our commitment to care and customer service by leveraging the Ambetter resources that millions of people rely upon across the country.”

Michigan residents will begin to see Ambetter from Meridian replace the previous Meridian Choice name across various channels, including the community and online. The previous Meridian Choice plan will no longer be listed on the Health Insurance Marketplace. That said, current Meridian Choice members will be able to continue using their coverage until the end of the year, and during open enrollment they can renew their coverage for next year with Ambetter from Meridian.

Open enrollment begins on Sunday, November 1, 2020, and ends on Tuesday, December 15, 2020. This is the only opportunity for individuals and families to shop for health insurance on the Health Insurance Marketplace, unless they qualify for special enrollment. Michigan residents interested in learning more about Ambetter from Meridian or enrolling in a health plan during the open enrollment period may visit www.ambettermeridian.com.  

About Meridian
Meridian in Michigan and WellCare of Michigan provide government-sponsored managed care services to families, children, seniors and individuals with complex medical needs primarily through Medicaid (MeridianHealth), Medicare Advantage (WellCare), Medicare-Medicaid Plans

Mortgage adviser: Liz Bayer, ProMortgage.

Property type: Single-family home in Berkeley.

Appraised value: $1.215 million.

Loan amount: $449,000.

Loan type: 30-year fixed.

Rate: 2.625%.

APR: 2.841%.

Backstory: I have a number of clients taking advantage of historically low rates and historically high home equity to get a cash out refinance. Past clients of mine had decided that they plan to live out their days in their home but wanted to tap into their equity to make home improvements to provide features that will benefit them as they age.

What was great is that even though they had a good rate from a previous transaction, it made all the sense in the world for them to refinance rather their mortgage taking out more than $100,000 with a new rate — which was lower than the one they had, even though this was a cashout refinance.

Although they did have a lot of equity in their home, conventional lending did not allow for an appraisal waiver as guidelines do not allow for a waiver if the transaction is cash out. In spite of this, we were able to get their loan done in 23 days. This is a perfect time to tap into home equity for long term needs.

Liz Bayer, ProMortgage, 415-383-3111, [email protected]

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NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — In the wake of the fatal shooting of a federal judge’s son in New Jersey, bi-partisan legislation seeks to restrict online access to judges’ personal information.

Twenty-year-old Daniel Anderl, the son of U.S. District Judge Esther Salas, was shot and killed inside the family’s home on July 19 by a gunman posing as a delivery driver. Salas’ husband, Mark Anderl, was seriously wounded and is recovering. Salas was in another part of the house and wasn’t injured.

The assailant, Roy Den Hollander, was a disgruntled lawyer who had posted anti-feminist screeds and who had a document with information about a dozen female judges around the country. He was involved in a gender bias case before Salas, in which he challenged the U.S. military’s male-only draft registration requirement.

Den Hollander killed himself in upstate New York shortly after shooting Anderl.

Democratic New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez, who recommended Salas for bench during the Obama administration, announced the Daniel Anderl Judicial Security and Privacy Act on Monday. He was joined by fellow Democratic New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, who serves on the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Democratic New Jersey Rep. Mikie Sherrill, who appeared in court before Salas during her years as a federal prosecutor.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, chair of the judiciary committee, is co-sponsoring the bill, Menendez said.

The bill would make it illegal for online aggregators to sell or make public personal information about judges and their families, including home addresses, social security numbers and school and employment information. It also would give federal marshals more resources to assess and track threats against judges.

“We may not be able to eliminate hatred from someone’s heart, but what we can do is make sure that men and women who serve on the federal bench don’t make