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EDITIONS
Sunday, 2 January, 2000, 19:02 GMT
Bug checks smooth so far
reveller
After the celebrations, the City focused on testing its computers
The UK's financial sector has spent the weekend testing its computer systems to ensure that everything will work when businesses re-open on Tuesday.

The London Stock Exchange completed its internal checks on Saturday, and mock trading sessions on Sunday - when City firms tested the systems - ran smoothly.

Up to 60,000 workers worked over the holiday weekend to ensure that the first day of trading in London's financial district, on Tuesday, goes smoothly.


All businesses should remain vigilant.

Rob Wilson, Taskforce 2000
But the minister in charge of the millennium bug preparations warned that smaller firms might still be vulnerable.

"We may see some small businesses who have not prepared lose some information. I have the suspicion that big companies knew the issues and did the work." said Paddy Tipping.

And the government agency in charge of Y2K issues said that some problems could take months to surface.

The massive investment, replacing old with new computers, has paid off.
Taskforce 2000 assistant director Rob Wilson said:

"The next three weeks will give us an idea of the scale of the problem but it is in the next three months that we will have to wait and see whether the bug bites."

"Our advice is that all businesses should remain vigilant."

So far, the fears that older computers might not cope with the date change from 1999 to 2000 and cripple industry have proved unfounded.

The success of coping with the computer bug replicated a pattern set in other countries around the world.

Customer services 'in good shape'

Retail customers and those using cash machines over the holiday period reported no problems, with 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 Y2K computer bug failed to strike, and cash points, credit cards, online banks and all other financial services across Britain have been working as normal all weekend.

Indeed, demand for cash was less than expected as banks and building societies stocked up for a rush during the holiday period.

The automated cheque clearing system, APACS, said checks over the last two days showed it would function normally when work resumed on Tuesday.

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

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.

Most other financial markets around the world resume trading on 3 January.

They have also undergone extensive testing - important because most financial markets are closely linked to one another.

Industry not yet affected

UK industry has spent millions of pounds preparing its computers to adjust to the new millennium.

BA has spent 100m, as airlines, airports and air traffic control reported that all systems were operating normally - but with reduced traffic.

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

Th electricity industry spent 200m in preparations.
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.

Overall, only a few millennium bug problems were reported to the special government centre set up to monitor problems at home and abroad.

But the minister said that the 420m spent so far was "money well spent" as proved by the smooth transition into the new century.

See also:

01 Jan 00 | Business
01 Jan 00 | Science/Nature
01 Jan 00 | Science/Nature
01 Jan 00 | Science/Nature
01 Jan 00 | Talking Point
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