The euro is coming, the euro is coming! This installment of the Global Innovators Series probes preparations being made around the globe for this long-awaited unified European currency, which begins its 11-country, three-step phase-in on January 1, 1999.
Having hopefully made progress scrubbing their systems clean of potentially debilitating Year 2000 bugs, many multinationals around the world and Main Street merchants throughout Europe are now turning their attention to euro compliance.
Some are taking a proactive approach, but the majority appear to be caught in severe "analysis paralysis", as one observer notes.
Everyone will need to snap to, and fast. The cost and complexity of identifying, testing and fixing operational systems is enormous. And some gurus believe the technical and business process issues involving euro conversions are much trickier to resolve than those surrounding the Year 2000. For banks, the situation is particularly precarious because financial instruments will be bought and sold in euros starting next January.
It should be interesting to see which European financial institutions are still standing on July 1, 2002, the day participating countries' currencies are forever dissolved.