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The original post contained incorrect information regarding Nomura launching an online brokerage. In fact, Nomura has offered on-line trading to its customers for several years under the name Home Trade, with the current number of accounts approaching the 2-million mark. Concurrently, Nomura is working on a project known as "Joinvest Securities," which is to be a completely separate securities operation from Nomura Securities. It will be a standalone online brokerage that according to Nomura management will not cannibalize its sales at Nomura Securities and Home Trade. Joinvest is supposed to be launched this April and it is expected it will eventually offer the broadest variety of services and capabilities, not only for equity trading but to all segments of investors. My thoughts on Nomura's online brokerage business remain the same. It is a heavyweight contender and although not many details of Joinvest are available, the more Nomura offers its customers, the more it will be able to leverage its core competencies and boost its trading volume and revenue. I doubt management's claims of no cannibalization, however I don't see a serious threat of switching either. Original text follows below.

Make room for a heavyweight contender in the heated Japanese online brokerage competition. Nomura Holdings (NMR) has made its debut with "Nomura Home Trade" and apparently a little earlier than expected. I first learned of Nomura's plans in January, when at that time the online brokerage was to be called "Joy Invest Securities" and was supposed to begin from this April.

Regardless, this is an important move for Nomura to boost its trading volume and capitalize on the preferences of Japanese investors and traders to trade via PC and cellular phone. Brokerage stocks have been hot since trading volume jumped from last August, the same time foreign buy interest in Japan took off following Koizumi's decisive snap election victory.

I don't have the details of Nomura Home Trade's commission fees but I can tell you Nomura will have some advantages over smaller online-only rivals, first in terms of its brand name and also because of the breadth and quality of research products it offers and seemingly with the scope of investment products available to include its own mutual funds.

Nomura Holdings ordinary shares (Tokyo: 8604) closed today up 1.53% at 2,320 yen. In morning trading Nomura's ADRs are up 1.3% at $19.48.

NMR 1-yr chart: