Magazine article American Banker

Britton of Miss. May Reap Reward from Web Gamble

Magazine article American Banker

Britton of Miss. May Reap Reward from Web Gamble

Article excerpt

In many ways Britton & Koontz First National Bank in Natchez, Miss., is your ordinary, conservative small-town community bank. For example, mortgage and home-equity loans make up 50% of its $162 million loan portfolio.

But two years ago something about the Internet brought out the riverboat gambler in the $238 million-asset bank.

In December 1998 it invested $1 million in Sumx Inc., which its own chief financial officer had formed in 1996 to create an online banking package for Britton & Koontz and other banks.

The 164-year-old bank had never made a venture capital play before it handed 5.2% of its capital to the CFO, Bazile Lanneau Jr., and Sumx, of which he is chief executive officer.

Now, after nearly $300,000 of losses for the bank, the investment seems ready to begin paying dividends. On Dec. 22, Diebold Inc. of Canton, Ohio, announced that it was close to concluding a deal to market Sumx to its customers around the world.

William R. Aitken, vice president and general manager for systems integration and services at Diebold, which reported revenues of $1.3 billion in 1999 and has more than 11,000 employees, said the company also plans to use Sumx to extend Internet banking capabilities to automatic teller machines.

Diebold, best known as a manufacturer of automatic teller machines, would assume responsibility for the sales, installation, and support of Sumx software and allow Mr. Lanneau's six-employee firm to concentrate on improving its product, Mr. …

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