Thank you Mr. Chairman. Let me first offer my congratulations on this, the inaugural hearing of the Financial Institutions and Technology Subcommittee.
I particularly applaud your recognition that technology issues are increasingly important in their own right to the financial services industry and I commend your perseverance in getting this subcommittee created.
Bluntly stated, the year 2000 problem is the ebola virus for computers.
Without dramatic efforts today, January 1, 2000 will be as devastating for computer systems as any weapon or virus that we can imagine.
Let me paint a picture for you, Mr. Chairman, of what could happen if this problem is not addressed. It's December 31, 1999; you're at home watching the ball drop in times square.
By the time the ball hits the ground, your bank accounts could be gone. Your mutual funds and pension accounts - gone. If you're a small businessman, your billing systems could be gone. All vanished into cyberspace purgatory.
Fortunately, the financial services industry is somewhat ahead of the curve in dealing with this problem.
However, it's important to note that there isn't a single financial institution, securities firm or insurance company that is year 2000-compliant today. So we're basing our optimism for compliance on the hope that everything the banks, securities firms and insurance companies are doing today will actually correct the problem.
There are a number of questions that I hope will get answered today: how far along is the financial services sector? What is the estimated cost of compliance? What are the implications for us firms if they are compliant, but international institutions and markets are not?
And most importantly, will I, as an ordinary individual, be able to get my money out of my bank or brokerage firm on January lst, 2000? Or should I spend December 1999 stuffing my life savings into a mattress?
Mr. chairman, I appreciate your dedication to getting us answers to these questions and I look
forward to the testimony of the witnesses and to our future hearings on this subject.
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