European central bankers are determined to create a unified currency system by 1999. To do this, they must create software to allow each of the dozen currencies to be expressed in terms on any other. All banking transactions must be capable of relating each currency to the other. This is a horrendously complex programming task.
To achieve this 1999 goal, the central bankers have recommended putting the y2k project on hold, or -- alternatively -- having programmers to solve both problems in one massive repair.
The result will be a failure to achieve either goal. We can kiss European banking goodbye. Unfortunately, the international banking system is a whole-cloth fabric.
The following assessment was made by a British specialist in programming assessment.
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Date: 04 May 97 17:24:24 EDT From: Steven Wakeland
<100617.2635@CompuServe.COM> Subject: Year 2000 and Other Major Projects
There were some interesting articles in the UK Computer Weekly this week. The most interesting fact was that the articles, although not directly related to the Year 2000 problem (one did refer to the Year 2000), are related to an ability to move towards Year 2000 compliance. The articles concerned were about European Monetary Union. Before you stop reading the rest of this message, please consider that EMU could be any major project which could force you to take your eye off the ball.
One article stated that "Sources within Barclays Bank have said that the scale of IT work needed makes it absolutely impossible for the UK to join the single currency in the first wave in 1999." Another article warned "The Bank of England has warned businesses not to delay work on changing IT systems for the euro (the name given to the common European Currency)." The latter article did acknowledge "The Bank [of England] also highlighted a possible shortage of time and IT resources to meet the joint demand of tackling the single currency and year 2000 projects, if businesses delayed implementing their strategies."
I firmly believe that it is irresponsible to plan for the implementation of any non-essential major projects whilst at the same time attempting to move towards Year 2000 compliance. There will inevitably be enhancements or maintenance work which cannot be stalled, but business managers need to be made acutely aware of the possible failure to move towards Year 2000 compliance. I find it absolutely astonishing that the Bank of England is attempting to persuade UK businesses to place some IT work before the Year 2000 renovation. One of the tasks of the Bank of England is to monitor the risks that the UK banks are taking, yet here we see a clear indication of the Bank actively encouraging taking on additional risks.
Why would the Bank of England do this? I believe it is a direct result of poor awareness of the scale of the work required to renovate systems for Year 2000. The Bank of England is probably being fed poor information, or no information, from the Banks operating in the UK. These banks should be screaming to the Bank of England, and the UK government, that it is simply not feasible to ensure that our systems survive into the next millennium and make changes to cater for a new common European currency at the same time. However, I suspect that few Banks are delivering this message (and even Barclays have set deadlines for preparing its euro corporate banking service, after having stated that it would not offer a similar one for retail customers). I would predict, however, that by the end of this year, the Year 2000 work will become a useful excuse as to why most European states cannot move towards a common currency.