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Sat, Oct 21, 2000 EDT
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Banks Report Business as Usual
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WASHINGTON — Y2K uncertainties about money eased as ATMs continued to work and some banks opened for business today.

"We're not afraid of Y2K," read T-shirts worn by tellers at City National Bank in Charleston, W.Va., which kept 10 drive-thru windows open all night New Year's Eve.

"At this point everything is 100 percent," said Jeff Legge, the bank's information systems director as customers were served shortly after midnight.

Although most big national banks will be closed today, City National, scheduled to stay open until noon, is among several small regional banks planning to unlock their doors, despite the holiday.

"This was just a matter of trying to make our customers feel more comfortable," said Legge.

Kurt Helwig, executive director of the Electronic Funds Transfer Association, which represents the nation's major ATM networks, said cash machines also were functioning normally after the midnight rollover. He tried one in the Virginia suburbs outside Washington himself.

"My little receipt from the ATM says 12:05 on Jan. 1, 2000. I may have to frame it," said Helwig, expressing relief that many in the financial services industry shared.

Donna Tanoue, chairwoman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., the agency that insures deposits at the nation's 10,300 banks and savings and loans, made her withdrawal more publicly, taking $20 out of an ATM machine one block from the White House early Saturday morning for the benefit of a bank of television cameras.

"In this country, we anticipated business as usual for banks and their customers and I am here to demonstrate that," she said.

She said that the FDIC and other federal banking agencies had received no reports through the night of major problems in the transition.

Friday night at the Federal Reserve, Chairman Alan Greenspan dropped by the Y2K command center after dinner at the White House for a briefing and to wish staff a happy new year. But with all quiet, he left well before midnight.

Fed spokesman Dave Skidmore said the nation's central bank still has a lot of follow-up work to do but added: "Given the experience of the day, we look forward to good results."

ATM networks and banks reported brisk business Friday but no more than on a normal long holiday weekend that coincided with a payday.

"We've had a good bit of traffic at both our ATMs and our branches, ... but we were certainly not unprepared or overwhelmed," said Lynn Drury, spokeswoman for Charlotte, N.C.-based Bank of America, the nation's second largest bank with 4,800 branches nationwide.

The Fed said it has delivered $80 billion in cash to banks since Oct. 1, after recommending that they stock up in case of increased consumer demand. That compares with $23 billion requested by banks in the fourth quarter of 1998.

Fed officials said they will not know until later how much of the padding was needed.

U.S. financial institutions with systems overseas, including credit card companies such as American Express and MasterCard, were reporting uninterrupted operations as the century date change rolled across the world.

"It bodes well for our country," said American Bankers Association spokesman John Hall. "Of course, we'll all be looking to the first business day as well."

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. has said all the nation's banks, thrifts and credit unions passed Y2K inspections. Financial institutions have spent an estimated $9 billion getting ready for the Year 2000 date change.

Nevertheless, the Fed is requiring banks to check in regularly into next week, to report computer problems or unusual customer behavior.

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