Sega deal will let users of game consoles trade stocks online


Japanese video-game addicts will soon be able to use their Dreamcast electronic consoles to trade stocks online as the result of a venture by Sega Enterprises and Nomura Securities.

The move promises to intensify competition in the games industry and the securities industry, which is preparing for the next stage of "Big Bang", the rolling programme of deregulation.

Equity commissions will be fully liberalised in Japan today and the move by Nomura, Japan's biggest broker, will add momentum to the surge of activity in the online broking sector.

The joint service, to be launched this month, marks the first time an online trading service has been offered through a video games console.

Sega said there were 1.4 million Dreamcast video games console users in Japan, with 420,000 already able to access the Internet using the console.

These users will be able to access Nomura's "Home Trade" service by upgrading their browsers with giga disc read-only memories (GDROMs) supplied by the broker.

Other users are expected to upgrade their games consoles to be able to access the Internet.

Sega's shares rose sharply on the news earlier this week while Nomura shares also finished higher. Sony, the electronics group, and Softbank, the computer software company, have already set up online trading companies. Charles Schwab, the largest US discount broker, has tied up with Tokio Marine, the biggest property and casualty insurer, to create another online brokerage.

Sega, which has seen unexpectedly strong Dreamcast sales of more than 500,000 units in the US after its launch this month, expects to increase Dreamcast users in Japan through the online service.

The games maker has a deal with Toyota, which enables Toyota car dealers to sell Dreamcast consoles with special access to the carmaker's Internet page. Sega expects online services to generate the bulk of its revenues within five years.