Japanese retail group Ito-Yokado has revealed that it is "carefully considering" moving into the profitable financial venture of offering unsecured loans to consumers, and the knowledge prompted a 6.8% rise in its share value yesterday (7 September). With a strong distribution network that contains about 5,000 supermarkets and convenience stores, an analyst at Deutsche Bank, Paul Heaton, believes that the venture would prove a "serious challenge" to Japan's major consumer finance groups.Shareholders, foreign investors and competitors can now only wait and see if Ito-Yokado applies to the Financial Supervisory Agency for a banking licence. It is expected to do so next month.