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Barclays, Nomura to Launch Massive U.K. Shopping Portal

[London, ENGLAND] Barclays plc and Nomura International plc announced Thursday a joint venture to create a Barclaycard-branded Internet shopping portal, offering millions of products and funded by US $45 million.

With online shopping expected to top US $18 billion by 2005, the partners in the new venture are looking to attract at least half a million customers by the end of next year. They also expect to carry "over 5 million products" from 350 retailers, with categories including gifts, computers, travel, health, music and clothing.

Bob Potts, Barclaycard's chief executive, claimed that Nomura's investment was an endorsement of Barclaycard's status as a premier online payments brand. There are 0.3 million personal customers using Barclaycard's online account services in Europe.

"Building our credentials as a major player in Internet-related commerce will be a significant factor in the growth of Barclaycard over the next 5 to 10 years," said Potts.

Initially, Barclaycard will target the service at all consumers in the United Kingdom although people in other European countries will also be able to use it.

Senia Rapisarda, head of principal investments for Nomura's communications & technology group, said the strength of the Barclaycard brand would allow the portal to capture a substantial share of the online shopping market.

Barclaycard says retailers will have to reach "exacting minimum standards relating to their Internet trading" in order to participate in the portal. If accepted, they will have their offerings made accessible via a multi-variable search facility that identifies best value across various product sectors.

The portal is expected to launch later this year with around a million products from the initial group of retailers.



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