Fujitsu, Nikko JV Promotes 'Net Trading

Fujitsu Ltd. and Nikko Securities Co. Ltd. today detailed plans for a joint venture designed to promote online trading and financial services to members of @Nifty, a Fujitsu-owned Internet service.

Called Internet Trading Securities Inc. (IT Securities), the joint company will be established this month and is scheduled to begin operations on April 3, the first business day of Japan's new financial year.

IT Securities will not actually handle trading of the stocks, but will instead direct customers to Nikko Beans, the online brokerage business of Nikko Securities, for the transactions. "It's more of a marketing company," said Scott Ikeda, a spokesman for Fujitsu. IT Securities will seek to make investing an easier concept for average Internet users and explain the basics of trading as a way to increase wealth, he said.

Plans to establish such a company were first announced in the middle of 1999, when Fujitsu and Nikko also said they would establish a separate company to build Internet network systems for other securities and financial services firms. [See "Nikko, Fujitsu Set Up Internet Stock Broker," July 14, 1999].

The focus will initially be on investment trusts and funds, and later in the year, IT Securities will begin promoting stock-trading, the company said. Plans to promote other related financial services are also in the works.

The audience will be the 3.5 million members of @Nifty, Japan's largest ISP (Internet service provider). The recently re-named @Nifty was born in late 1999, when Fujitsu merged NiftyServe, a pure online service that had moved to the Web in recent years, with InfoWeb, its ISP unit.

Nikko Securities, in which Citigroup Inc. owns a 25 percent stake, is one of Japan's big three securities brokers.

Online trading in Japan began in early 1999 but services did not really get started until October 1999 when the government deregulated commissions charges and allowed brokers to charge whatever price they desired. Previously such charges had been regulated and all brokerages charged the same rate for any given transaction. That change, coupled with the explosion in the popularity of PCs and the Internet, led to a healthy start for many online brokerages.

Fujitsu, in Tokyo, can be found on the Web at http://www.fujitsu.co.jp. Nikko Securities, also in Tokyo, is at http://www.nikko.co.jp.

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