Banks emerge unscathed from weekend Y2K test

Banks around the globe this weekend pretended it was January 2000, taking part in a simulation to see how cross-border payment systems will cope in the year 2000.

The test, initiated by the US settlement company New York Clearing House, tested bank systems from countries including the US, Japan, Germany, Australia, France and Hong Kong, according to the German Bundesbank (Central Bank), which is helping coordinate the test results.

The Global Street Test, as it was called, took place June 12 and 13. It simulated how certain payment and settlement systems will handle international traffic on the dates January 3, 2000 and January 4, 2000, the first two business days after the turn of the year, the Bundesbank said in a statement. The test is the only international test that banks intend to carry out, the Bundesbank added.

New York Clearing House could not be reached immediately for comment, and no information was immediately available on how many banks took part in the test or what the results were. From the German point of view, however, the early results are positive.

"Year 2000 problems did not appear," said the Bundesbank in its statement, adding that it will give a full report on how German banks fared in the test this Friday, at a Frankfurt press conference. A Bundesbank spokesman declined to give out details before then.

The banks were testing whether their computer systems will be able to interpret date fields from the year 2000. Older software programs, designed only to interpret two-digit date fields, could interpret the "00" in 2000 as being the date "1900," causing them to make false calculations.

Among the systems tested over the weekend were the German Central Bank's own payment and settlement systems, and ELS (electronic counter) and EAF (electronic settlement) systems, the German Central Bank said. To prepare for the Global Street Test, banks in Germany on May 31 already ran a preliminary test among themselves, according to information posted on the Bundesbank's Web site.

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