Rating agency finds Baltic banks pest free

  • 2000-01-20
  • Sandra L. Medearis
LONDON - Bank monitors have declared Baltic banks bug free from Y2K so far.

London-based Thomson Financial Bankwatch has confirmed after a bank
survey of about 60 banks that the year 2000 has given rise to few
problems in Eastern Europe. The organization specializes in banking
risk analysis.

Following a Sept. 29 test which was uneventful, even with all its
number 9s lined up to give computers a bad time, analysts are looking
forward to a ho-hum leap year test on Feb. 29.

Sally Wicken of TFBW in London explained what some enumerate
journalists did not know concerning September and banking.

"The volume of documentation going through bank IT systems on Sept.
29 (09 291999) is huge, as Sept. 29 is used for a [place holding]
date when an end date for a contract is not specific or important,"
she said. "There were no problems; the day went by without

With all the concentration on Dec. 31, and computers tasked with
turning the year over to "00," some in the banking business did not
give a lot of thought to the IT's additional chore of giving February
its 29 days for the leap year.

TFBW in May predicted that few problems would arise at the turn of
the century, and that has proved correct, said Wicken.

" As the year progressed, people became more confident that all would
be well. We were happy that we were correct in our predictions and
assessments. The preparation invested apparently paid off."

Banks rated by TFBW reported that computer systems operated well on
Dec. 31- Jan. 1, and that sudden deposit withdrawal did not occur.
Minor outflows of deposits seemed to be related more likely to
changes in bank products and services and seasonal factors, with
central bank regulations adequate to compensate any need for
additional liquidity, Wicken said.

Individual bank responses have shown that corporate customers did not
report problems stemming from the date change.

"Electric companies and other concerns dependent on IT among bank
customers in Eastern Europe did not report problems," Wicken said.

TFBW predicted that future glitches, should they become apparent in
coming weeks or at a leap year, will not be problematic.

Analysts expect investments made in banks' IT systems in anticipation
of New Year's Eve to ensure an uneventful Feb. 29 and at the same
time to increase banks' competitiveness and operational efficiency,
more-so and quicker, than if modernization had come on a timetable
unhurried by the aspect of Y2K bugs.