Nomura Research Institute's presence in the United States is limited — its U.S. headquarters in New York employs only 17 people — but it is the number one information technology outsourcing and consulting company in Japan, going head to head not only with Japanese rivals, but also with American-born integrators such as Accenture, McKinsey & Co., Boston Consulting Group and IBM.

In Japan, NRI has made forays into automated teller machine operations and internet banking, as well as wealth management and a capital markets back-office system, STAR-IV. It operates four primary divisions: consulting, financial IT solutions, industrial IT solutions and IT platform solutions. Within these are eight group companies, and offices in London, Hong Kong, and China.

In 2009, its first year in the FinTech 100 ranking, the company posted $2.5 billion of revenue; 69% ($1.7 billion) of that was from financial services. Half of its total revenue comes from outsourced system management services, and slightly more than a third from custom systems development work and sales of proprietary software. Like its American competitors, NRI is investing heavily in cloud computing infrastructure to accommodate its increasing outsourcing business.

The consultantcy does not sell its products outside Japan, but that's not to say it does not do work for all the biggest U.S. banks. JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc., among others, are adopting NRI's products in their Japanese subsidiaries. "We are the dominant player there in terms of financial consulting," says Sakura Nakamura, a spokesperson for the firm in the United States.

Its primary strength is in capital markets technology, but Nomura is cautiously expanding into banking, and outside of Japan. "In 2010 we saw a rise in North American and European interest in the Japanese private banking industry. Foreign investment banks are attempting to capture the increasing wealth management business opportunities in Asia including Japan," wrote Shin Kusunoki, corporate senior vice president, financial technology solutions, in an emailed response to questions.

The firm recently established a research and development center in Silicon Valley to study technology and trends in the United States and Europe as it considers new business opportunities in those areas, wrote Keiichi Ishibashi, director and corporate executive vice president of the firm's Financial IT Solutions business in its latest annual report.

Founded in 1988 with the merger of Nomura Research Institute, Japan's first private-sector think tank, and Nomura Computer Systems, a systems integrator, the company has been listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange since 2001.