Technology firm with Natchez ties could be going global

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 22, 2000

A likelihood of going global with its technology has Natchez-linked Sumx Inc. executives excited about the company’s future. Negotiations to create a business association were announced Friday between Sumx, an electronic banking systems provider, and Diebold Incorporated of Canton, Ohio.

&uot;We still have some good negotiating to do, but we’re close,&uot; said Bazile Lanneau Jr., president and CEO of Sumx.

With offices in Madison and Dallas, Sumx is a subsidiary of Britton & Koontz Capital Corp. of Natchez and was co-founded by Lanneau.

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Diebold provides automatic teller machines, smart-card machines and security equipment to financial institutions worldwide.

In a press release announcing the negotiations, a Diebold executive described the Sumx technology as the most complete he has seen.

&uot;The Sumx platform also opens the door for delivery of additional software products and services in the future,&uot; said William R. Aitken, a Diebold vice president.

Lanneau, also vice president of Britton & Koontz First National Bank, said Sumx began more than a year ago looking for a company such as Diebold. &uot;We wanted a company which had lots of customers and a good balance sheet but which did not have the software we were offering,&uot; Lanneau said.

For banks interested in providing Internet services, the convergence of Diebold’s resources and sales force with Sumx’s technology means more flexibility in features and pricing.

B&K Bank President and CEO Page Ogden said a possible partnership between Sumx and Diebold is big news for Natchez and for the banking industry.

&uot;Diebold is a New York Stock Exchange company with 11,000 employees worldwide,&uot; he said.

&uot;It started in the 19th century as a safe manufacturer and today it is a very respected company working with many banks, credit unions and savings and loan institutions.&uot;

Ogden said the working relationships with Diebold representatives have impressed him.

&uot;It’s as though they have adopted us. They’re wonderful people to work with. If they want me to wear their name on my shirt, I’ll be happy to do that,&uot; he said.

B&K Capital provided the backing for Sumx when the company was founded in 1995 to develop Internet technology for banks.

B&K Bank was the first institution to use the technology, said Ogden, who also serves on the Sumx board.

&uot;And still today we offer Sumx a wonderful laboratory here at B&K,&uot; he said.

Lanneau, he said, is a &uot;wonderful resource for this institution. Our board has allowed him the entrepreneurship opportunity to develop this technology.&uot;

Diebold will market, install and support the Sumx technology, Ogden said.

&uot;They’ll warrant the product to the bank where it’s installed.&uot;

Diebold, as an old-economy business, was ready to reach out to find the new technology Sumx provides, he said.

&uot;It’s interesting that many of the old mainline companies are doing this, looking for new pioneering companies and cherry-picking the best,&uot; Ogden said.

&uot;We hope we’re one of them.&uot;

An advantage the Sumx technology offers is providing banks the option of licensing its software for a one-time fee instead of leasing it along with costly outside servicing.

The software is attractive to banks of all sizes, Lanneau said.

&uot;Six banks other than B&K have our software now,&uot; he said.

They include banks in Louisiana, Illinois, Virginia, New York and elsewhere in Mississippi.

SumxNet provides features such as check imaging, billing systems, multi-lingual templates, an open-architecture database and full Internet access to its customers.

&uot;This intellectual product was developed right here in Natchez; it highlights the telecommunications technology need here,&uot; Ogden said.

&uot;This is very big. Sumx could be bigger than B&K.&uot;