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Wednesday, September 29, 1999 Published at 11:09 GMT 12:09 UK

Business: The Company File

Sega users to play stock markets

Dreamcast players will soon be able to trade online

Owners of Sega's Dreamcast consoles will be able to trade shares online in Japan from next month.

The games company has tied up with the Japanese bank Nomura to offer the new service, the first of its kind.

Dreamcast consoles already have Internet connections for games and now these can be adapted for trading, with a specially designed CD-Rom.

Sega hopes to increase Dreamcast users through its online services, and expects these services to generate the bulk of its revenues within the next five years.

Dreamcast was launched in Japan in November last year, and has since sold 1.7m units in Japan and the US, where it launched this month.

More than 400,000 of the Japanese users already access the Internet via their consoles.

The Dreamcast console is to be launched in Europe on October 14th.

Its success is considered vital for the success of Sega, whose consoles were overtaken by rivals Nintendo and Sony. Sony's Playstation 2, due to be launched in March 2000, will have an Internet capability.

Banking reform

The tie-up comes amidst liberalisation in the Japanese banking sector.

More than 40 firms have started online trading in Japan. Online brokers, with their small overheads, can offer major discounts.

On Friday, Japan is set to abolish all fixed commissions on stockbroking orders and allow banks to sell shares.

Online trading has already made a major impact on the US stock market, with up to one-fifth of all trades on the technology-heavy Nasdaq index traded through online discount brokers.

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