HALIFAX - Delay of IF as Meltdown Hits Comptuers

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Halifax Delays Launch of IF as Meltdown Hits Computers

Gregor Paul

Financial Correspondent

July 14, 2000

INTELLIGENT Finance, Halifaxs internet and phone bank, has been forced into an eleventh-hour abandonment of todays proposed launch after its computer system was sent into meltdown during final testing.

The Edinburgh-based venture made the decision to delay its launch for at least a month, when it discovered a glitch in its system late on Wednesday night. The Intelligent Banking computer system, which Halifax is trying to patent, had sailed through initial tests but buckled when it was put under intense pressure in the final production stage of testing.

Jim Spowart, the former Standard Life Bank supremo who is masterminding the launch of Intelligent Finance, said the system ran into difficulties when the volume of calls increased. Having hit problems trying to field between 400 and 500 calls at a time, the bank deemed that the system was not ready to cope with the predicted volume of calls it will have to field when it goes live.

The decision to delay the launch is a major blow for Intelligent Finance, which has spent #15 million advertising the launch date as 14 July. It also announced last month that it would launch the phone operation before the internet arm, to try and reduce the likelihood of the computer system breaking down under the initial public demand.

Mr Spowart said it was a "tough call" to abort at such short notice . He said: "There is no point in pretending we are not disappointed and embarrassed but we could not launch until we were sure we could handle the anticipated levels of customer activity.

"It was the right decision to make as its better to disappoint than it is to anger. There has been a lot of demand from independent financial advisers and consumers, and if we had pressed the button on Friday and run into difficulties we would have inconvenienced a lot of people."

Mr Spowart said the company was working round the clock to identify the source of the problem and he was confident the bank would now launch in mid-August, if not before. The banks 1,400 staff at its Edinburgh and Livingston bases were told about the delay yesterday morning.

Gordon Brown, the Chancellor of the Exchequer had been due to open the Edinburgh office officially this morning, but rescheduled earlier in the week for 21 July. IF said it was now likely that it would have to change the date for a third time.

In a separate blow to Intelligent Finance, Virgin announced it is taking legal advice in respect to allegations IF made in a recent press release.

Virgin, which operates an all-in-one savings and mortgage account called Virgin One, similar to the proposition Intelligent Finance will offer, claims IF made a number of inaccuracies when it compared the two products in a release last week to announce details of its product range. http://www.scotsman.com/cgi-bin/t3.cgi/taf/index.taf?function=detail&Scotsman_uid1=r%5Bpoyer&desk=Business&cat=business&sec=4

-- (Dee360Degree@aol.com), July 14, 2000


Hey, at least they "stressed" tested it. Many systems go in after a simple systems test w/o real world conditions. I would bet that is what happened with the N. J. car inspection system. I have actually seen systems that were released into the field and called back because they could not handle the volumn required.

This people saved their customers millions because it is the customer who pays!

-- K. (infosurf@yahoo.com), July 14, 2000.

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