CLS Bank, a financial industry initiative to eliminate the settlement risk in cross-border currency trading, has confirmed that it will not now launch a live service until the first half of 2002 due to problems experienced during the testing of IBM-supplied software.
CLS was initially scheduled to begin live trials next month. Testing of the IBM software began in August but banks have experienced significant operational difficulties in using the system.
Joseph De Feo, chief executive of the CLS Group admits to frustration at the delays: “CLS Group is ready to go live and our shareholders and their suppliers are technically and operationally ready to start the live trials, but we are dependent on the implementation of a tested IT system."
Trials have been rescheduled for the first quarter of 2002, enabling a fully live service to be available in the following quarter, he says.
“Creating an IT backbone for the world’s largest clearing and settlement system has been an unprecedented task,” says Brian Sellwood, general manager, IBM global services, north region. “This timetable gives us the time we need to test and strengthen CLS’s IT infrastructure, while addressing the evolving requirements of the system. CLS will be an important component of the global financial industry’s infrastructure, and we believe it is the right decision to take the time to ensure that its IT underpinnings are robust.”
Insiders close to the project describe the build-up to launch as a shambles, with banks forced to reboot the software during initial testing and reporting functional errors in settlement reporting.
De Feo says: "We are frustrated by the extension into 2002 but the increased testing programme will benefit us in the long term. We are linking many of the world’s central banks with over 60 major financial institutions on a real time basis. We cannot compromise on any aspect of the preparations for the launch of the service. All our stakeholders will work with IBM to help them to complete the final stage of testing"