The financial services industry is preparing for a winter product shutdown because of the millennium computer bug.
Leading companies are preparing to freeze product development in the final quarter of 1999 because of the bug, which could cause widespread system shutdowns as computers fail to recognise the change of date from 1999 to 2000.
Despite spending millions making their systems year 2000 compliant, several leading financial services companies say they do not have enough faith in them to launch major product developments towards the end of the millennium.
Standard Life, Scottish Widows, Royal Bank of Scotland, Legal & General, NatWest and Barclays have confirmed they are imposing a freeze on product development from October, with others expected to follow suit.
Money Marketing understands all high-street banks have been meeting to discuss the problem.
The move comes despite NatWest spending £113m, Legal & General £39m and Standard Life £14m on attempting to beat the bug.
From October, Standard Life will also place a freeze on all major implementations covering IT infrastructure and application changes.
NatWest Mortgage Services press officer David Sheridan says: “Although we are fully confident our systems are compliant and the people that we conduct business with are fully compliant, NatWest Group has made a decision not to launch any initiatives from October 1999.”
Legal & General group press officer Graham Rimmer says: “There will be a freeze on non-essential changes to systems from November until after the millennium. There will not be any products put on the systems towards the end of the year.”
Technology correspondent Ian McKenna says: “I would be amazed if any financial organisation launches any new products in the final quarter of this year. It wouldn't surprise me if some companies stop launching new products as early as the second half of this year.”