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Sunday, 2 January, 2000, 12:19 GMT
Banks unscathed by century switch

Open for business

UK bank customers can breathe easy. The Y2K computer bug has failed to strike, and cash points, credit cards, online banks and all other financial services across Britain are working as normal.

The fears that older computers might not cope with the date change from 1999 to 2000 and cripple the financial industry proved unfounded.

The rest of UK industry appears to have escaped major problems as well.

The massive investment, replacing old with new computers, has paid off.
The success of coping with the computer bug replicated a pattern set in other countries around the world.

Customer services 'in good shape'

The Financial Services Authority (FSA) declared "business as usual".

Michael Foot, the FSA's head of financial supervision, said he "would continue to monitor the situation over the next few days, but key customer-facing services are in good shape".

The only sign of apparent difficulty came from a customer trying to use Halifax's online share-dealing service. He wanted to check a company's historical share price to get ready for next week's trading, a service normally available on days the markets are closed.

He told BBC News Online that he received an error message whenever he tried to log on to the site.

The message read: "Security Alert! There is a problem with the site's security certificate. The security certificate has expired."

A Halifax spokeswoman explained the service had been completely tested and is Y2K compliant, with business as usual from 4 January for the share dealing service.

It appears that the problem was due to the customer not having updated his browser which produced the error message, combined with the fact that the site is closed until markets re-open.

The spokeswomen pointed out that all customers had been notified of the site closure several weeks in advance.

Banking system secure

While most shoppers and bank customers are safe, things are looking good in the back office as well.

The Bank of England, charged with monitoring the payment systems in the banking industry, gave the all-clear after a first round of tests.

The only Millennium bug to strike the UK, on the head of Justin Terry in Bognor Regis, Sussex
Both the London Stock Exchange and Metal Exchange reported "no problems" at all.

A spokesman for the stock exchange said that "the rollover happened uneventfully".

The industry has two more days to test its systems - one more than in most other countries. Monday is a bank holiday in the UK, and the markets will begin to trade again on Tuesday, 4 January.

Other financial markets around the world resume trading on 3 January.

Industry not affected

Reports from across the UK suggest that other key computer systems have survived the Y2K bug as well.

Airports and air traffic control reported that all systems were operating normally.

Utilities like gas providers, electricity generators and water companies gave the all-clear.

Nuclear power plants like British Energy's Sizewell B fought off the Millennium bug
Martin Jolleys of British Energy, who operate eight of the UK's nuclear power stations, said: "This is exactly what we worked to achieve, no material problems as a result of the millennium bug."

Telecoms watchdog Oftel said there were no problems with the UK's telephone networks, despite it being "a very busy night".

British oil refineries across the isles said their systems had passed the Y2K test successfully.

Boy becomes millennium bug

The only millennium bug encountered so far was reported by electronics retailer Dixons. A young boy cut the cables of his uncle's computer "to stop the millennium bug crawling in".

A spokeswoman said that staff at the company's help centre "actually thought it was a hoax but it turned out to be a genuine call".

She added that the 50 staff had a very quiet night otherwise.

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See also:
01 Jan 00 |  Business
'Business as usual' in Y2K
01 Jan 00 |  UK
UK millennium bug fails to bite
01 Jan 00 |  Sci/Tech
Minor bug problems arise
31 Dec 99 |  Sci/Tech
Y2K bug fails to bite
01 Jan 00 |  Sci/Tech
Y2K viruses alert
01 Jan 00 |  Talking Point
Y2K: Overhyped and oversold?

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