St George banks on Web before Y2K freezes work

St George Bank will launch two new internet banking applications late this month, ahead of its freeze on IT development work until after Y2K.

The first new application will allow St George customers to 'future date' internet transactions to avoid losing interest payments, and the second offers businesses a simplified Web-enabled wage payment facility.

Under the first initiative, businesses would be able to record their staff bank account and payment details, so that information does not need to be rekeyed each time wages are paid online, said Brad Matthews, business manager, electronic channels, St George Bank.

The Java-based applications have been developed in-house over the last four months and are being successfully piloted internally now, Matthews said.

Meanwhile, the bank is also investigating options for internet-enabling transactions which require multiple signatures, he said, explaining that currently only transactions requiring a single authorisation can be carried out online.

It is unlikely that the multiple signature capability will be launched this year, Matthews said. St George is preparing to comply with a banking industry moratorium on IT development work which requires financial institutions to delay systems changes until after the Y2K threat is passed, he said.

The moratorium was approved by the Australian Payments Clearing Assocation (APCA) Board in February 1999, and applies to all institutions participating in the Y2K interbank testing program.

It will be in force between November 1, 1999 and January 17, 2000 inclusive; and February 21, 2000 to March 3, 2000 inclusive (covering the year 2000 leap year).

During the moratorium, only emergency fixes (corrective and preventative) and essential table changes required to support normal business operations will be able to be made to internal systems involved in the year 2000 testing.

"There will . . . be a 'freeze' on changes to banks' critical systems over the latter months of 1999 and around February 29, 2000 to ensure that no errors are introduced," said John Laker, assistant governor, financial systems, Reserve Bank.

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