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1998-04-07 08:34:29


International Bank Wire Transfer System: Test in July, 1999



I get this same letter, over and over: "Is my foreign bank account safe?" It's as safe as (1) your foreign bank's computer, (2) the international banking system, and (3) the bank wire transfer system.

The bank wire transfer system will be tested, we're told, in July of 1999.

Good luck.

SWIFT's spokesman claims compliance for the network. We'll see. But he is dealing with a systemic problem: the compliance of SWIFT's members.

This is from INFOWORLD ELECTRONIC (April 2).

* * * * * * *

The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications (SWIFT) has issued a mandatory software test for its 6,000 members to determine whether their systems are ready for the year 2000. The group, however, has no mechanism in place to enforce the use of the test, a spokesman for the organization said. SWIFT provides a secure messaging system and interface software to financial organizations in 174 countries. . . .

"We are providing a tool, but we cannot police its use, because we are just a link in an end-to-end secure messaging system," he said. "We guarantee that our system is 2000-compatible, and the test we provide verifies whether at each end of a transmission, the customer can process a year 2000 message."

The organization has given its members until July 1999 to report whether they have completed the test and what the outcome is, he said. If problems are identified at that time, SWIFT's board of directors will relay that information to the appropriate national authority, the spokesman said.

Although the test represents an important step toward year 2000 readiness, "it does not certify that customers will be fully compliant" with the changes necessary to avoid problems, according to a statement by the organization.

SWIFT's global network carried more than 800 million messages in 1997, of which two-thirds were payment messages. The Belgium-based cooperative estimates that daily payment messages alone are valued at roughly $2 trillion.

"If a member's system is not compatible with 2000, it will not mess up our network," the spokesman explained. It will just mean that the message cannot be processed at either the transmitting or receiving end, he said.


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