Re: Where to Add new Currency Sign? -- Cultural adaptability

From: addison@globalsight.com
Date: Mon Dec 20 1999 - 16:44:21 EST


Alain wrote:
I have seen but bad usages (including those examples) for this in all
countries I have visited. Even at **most** foreign currency exchange
places, affiliates to banks, which are said to be those who use this
standard.

That said, the approach remains the global solution in principle. But
education is required. A lot of education. Is it the example of
culturally-neutral identifier? I don't believe so. Addison, a coding
specialist, just demonstrated it once more, but he is far to be alone.

Well, Alain is being nice... but there is no excuse for not looking up the
codes before implementation. I've worked on a few retail systems that use
ISO 4127 for multicurrency. Yes, the codes are confusing in many cases... I
didn't remember the rule when composing the original message and "just
winged it", which is usually a good way to "eat crow" later.

There are *difficult* issues surrounding multi-currency. Most system
designers in the U.S. conveniently ignore the issue (you *have* to have two
fields: one for the value and one for the currency type---assumptions are a
very bad idea), and it is not a good idea to invent your own standards as
you go along. What you display to the user ("localization") and what you
actually store *can* be different to reduce confusion, where it makes
sense. However, ISO 4127 *is* the standard and it makes sense to promote it
as such by displaying it.

The problem, typically, if faced by multi-country e-tailers. If your
company is in Japan ( = JPY), with a server in Iowa ($ = USD), warehouse
in Ireland (= IEP or = EUR), and customer in the Czech Republic (Koruna
= CSK), what currency do you see? What does each link along the way see?
How do you pay your shipper? How are each of these formatted? Which credit
card clearing house do you access? Answers to these questions could cost
your company a lot of money is currency conversions, customer confusion or
exchange rate fluctuations.

ISO 4127 is not a panacea, but it provides a way to begin organizing this
mess. Most implentations end up displaying the currency to end-users
explicitly spelled out in the currently selected language (ruble is not
spelled out in Latin characters in Russia! And, as Roozbeh pointed out
earlier today, not everyone has an explicit currency character already
extant like $--although it looks like Iran does in that part of this
thread). One bad assumption is that everyone's "currency character" is one
character long! Sure, pounds and dollars and yen and won all have symbols.
But francs typically use two. And position varies. An "internationalized"
interface can use ISO 4127 in a pull down box to the left/right of the
value on screen (or in reports) to escape from the variable length and
format problem (at least a little). Of course, there is still the question
of numeric format... What's 0.01?

Some globalization issues are not as easy as they look!

thanks,

Addison

Addison P. Phillips
Senior Globalization Consultant
Global Sight Corporation

mailto:addison@globalsight.com
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