Euronet Services Inc., which operates one of the few independent automated teller machine networks in Europe, has just signed outsourcing deals with two big international banking companies.
Heavyweights such as Citigroup Inc., ABN Amro NV, and others have been increasing their business with Euronet as they build up ATM fleets in the emerging markets of Eastern and Central Europe.
"Our easiest targets to date are usually the Western European banks going into smaller markets across Europe," said Michael Brown, the chairman, chief executive officer, and co-founder of Euronet. In its two latest agreements, announced in the past two weeks, Euronet made an eight-year deal to deploy and drive 250 Citibank ATMs in Greece and a multiyear pact with ABN Amro to process for its 97 in-branch ATMs in Hungary.
The banking companies own the ATMs, but Euronet runs them.
Banks in Europe have usually handled their own ATM processing. Outsourcing any service, including running ATMs, is relatively new there and remains far less prevalent than in the United States. Indeed, Euronet says it is the only nonbank operator of ATMs in Continental Europe; the United Kingdom is the one place in Europe catching up to the United States in this field.
Euronet, based in Leawood, Kan., was founded in 1995 by two Americans who noticed that Hungary had few ATMs in its burgeoning economy. The partners started out with a few company-owned ATMs. To avoid spending money up-front, Euronet has chosen to grow by outsourcing rather than owning terminals, Mr. Brown said.
Euronet now owns 68% of the 2,480 ATMs connected to its network, compared with 88% a year earlier. The company has bank customers of varying sizes in 11 countries, including France, the United Kingdom, and the United States, where it owns the Dash regional shared network, based in Little Rock, Ark.
"Our customers were multinationals moving into a country, and I think that gave us credibility," which attracted local banks, Mr. Brown said. The company, which also owns a banking software division branded as Arksys, reported first-quarter revenues of $11.9 million, a 46% increase from the year before. Revenues for the ATM network services division increased 53%.
Mr. Brown said his company appeals to banks because they can save on staff and maintenance and tap Euronet's experience in finding good retail sites. Euronet also lets people pay bills and add prepaid minutes to their mobile phones through its ATM.
Chris Vasilliades, a vice president at Citibank, said the agreement with Euronet means "we can immediately expand Citibank's presence throughout Greece and serve our growing customer base there more effectively."
"By outsourcing ATM deployment and management to Euronet, Citibank is able to predict and control the quality and the costs of this distribution channel without committing our own management resources," he added.
Citibank, also a Euronet customer in Hungary and Poland, is its first customer in Greece. Citibank will own and brand the ATMs and will pay all direct costs of buying, installing, and operating the machines. It will pay Euronet a recurring management fee for transaction processing, monitoring, and maintenance.