A market research firm in London has reported that one-third of western European ATM markets shrank last year, a trend that some ATM analysts privately worry could happen in the U.S. as well.
Dominic Hirsch, managing director of London-based Retail Banking Research, wrote about the phenomenon in one of the firm's research bulletins. Six countries, including Great Britain and Spain, saw their number of ATMs fall last year, Hirsch said. But he also noted that two countries with lower rates of ATM penetration, Italy and Turkey, saw increases. This suggested that the unprecedented drop in ATMs represented more of an anomaly than the start of a trend.
Nevertheless, Hirsch pointed to a couple of troubling trends. For example, although the ATM drop in many countries could be attributed to financial institutions closing or consolidating branches, falling transaction rates at ATMs in the United Kingdom had led some independent deployers to pull their machines because they had become too expensive to operate.
Hirsh wrote that the firm expected the number of ATMs in parts of Europe to continue to to drop as financial institutions continue to consolidate branches, but that the plethora of areas without any ATMs still allowed for growth.