The nation's largest regional automated teller machine networks were the main beneficiaries of an industry consolidation and an increase in transaction activity last year, according to an industry newsletter.

Bank Network News, a Chicago-based newsletter that tracks the electronic funds transfer industry, found that the networks operating under the MAC, Honor, and Most logos saw a huge increases in switched transaction traffic during 12 months ending in September.

Switched transactions, sometimes known as interchange transactions, result when an ATM cardholder uses an ATM or point of sale terminal not owned by the card-issuing bank. They are important measures of the usefulness of a network to financial institutions.

MAC, which is owned and operated by Electronic Payment Services Inc., Wilmington, Del., recorded a 90% surge in switched transactions through September.

MAC now switches about 64 million transactions per month between financial institutions, which is more than three times the traffic handled by the second place Star System Inc., the dominant network in the west.

Most of the growth in MAC's transaction numbers is attributable to the network mergers that led to the formation of Electronic Payment Services in the summer of 1992.

The other two big gainers of switch transactions, Honor and Most, registered surges of 34% and 25% respectively. Honor, which is operated by Southeast Switch Inc., Maitland, Fla., handles about 17.2 million switched transactions per month.

Most, operated by Internet Inc., Reston, Va., switches an average of 12.4 million transactions monthly.

Honor ranks fourth and Most fifth on the list of top electronic funds transfer switches.

The NYCE network, which is operated by the New York Switch Corp. in Hackensack, N.J., came in third on the list, with 17.8 million monthly switched transactions.

Switched volume at NYCE grew by about 6% in 1993, according to Bank Network News.

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