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What are finance systems programmed in?

  1. Nov 6, 2014 #1
    Talking about banks, credit cards, card swipes, ATM machines...stocks/wallstreet all that stuff, is it C/C++ that is generally used?
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 6, 2014 #2


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    For banking like operations, it used to be Cobol and in the case of IBM mainframes with some assembly code (a long time ago, some of the database access methods were assembly macros). Some financial institutions are required to use decimal based math, and Cobol includes native support for decimal based math.
  4. Nov 6, 2014 #3
    Ah, never even heard of COBOL before, thanks
  5. Nov 6, 2014 #4


    Staff: Mentor

    It's been around forever (i.e., since 1959). Grace Hopper was instrumental in the development of this language.
  6. Nov 6, 2014 #5


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    Most dedicated transaction machines like ATMs use proprietary software developed by the vendor, but usually running under an older, stable operating environment. Some ATMs ran on MS-DOS systems for years after Windows became available, and since support for Win XP has been discontinued, many banks have signed up for special support services from Microsoft since a large number of ATMs currently in use operate under Win XP and banks are not particularly eager to replace all that hardware.


    New ATMs are starting to appear with programming in some flavor of Java.

    For back office work at banks, bond houses, brokerages, and the like, a variety of software is employed, from spreadsheets to database software to sophisticated programs which host complex financial models. You can probably find a little of everything being used, except possibly FORTRAN.

    COBOL programmers were a dying breed at one point, with some companies offering to pay to train new hires as COBOL programmers and offering incentives to get older programmers to come out of retirement.
  7. Nov 6, 2014 #6


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    This includes storing numbers as binary coded decimal, i.e. a separate group of bits for each decimal digit. To save memory space, many COBOL programs written before the turn of the century stored year values as two digits, with an implicit preceding '19'. This was the infamous "Y2K bug" which created a lot of temporary work for COBOL programmers just before the year 2000.

  8. Nov 6, 2014 #7
    Wasn't there supposed to be some apocalypse because of this exact bug back in 1999? How time takes you circles..
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 6, 2014
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