In 1994 Europe surpassed Japan and the United States to become the market with the most automated teller machines, a recent survey found.

Nineteen countries in Europe reported a total of 133,184 terminals last year, up 16% from 1993, according to a study conducted by Retail Banking Research Ltd., London.

And that gives Europe the edge, with 31.33% of all installed ATMs, compared to 28.80% for Japan, and 25.66% for the United States.

"Our yearly shipments to Europe have been outstripping yearly shipments to Japan for several years now," said Al Warf, vice president of self- service systems for Diebold Inc., Canton, Ohio. "So unless they were all replacement units, which I knew they were not, I fully expected Europe's installed base to become larger."

The Retail Banking Research data is based on survey replies from more than 200 banks in 19 countries, as well as independent research to corroborate and supplement the survey data.

Countries in eastern Europe - considered by many to be the next hot market for ATM deployment - were not included in the study.

The survey shows there are about 425,000 ATMs in operation worldwide in 1994, a 13% increase over the previous year.

In Japan, until recently the market with the most ATMs, the total grew only 5% during 1994, to 122,415.

That's "a huge concentration of machines," said Ken Justice, assistant vice president of Americas area marketing for AT&T Global Information Solutions.

The U.S. market grew by 15%, and for the first time the installed base exceeded 100,000 terminals.

But Europe is where the most interesting story unfolds. For the first time, Germany has become the largest market within Europe, according to the survey.

With 24,382 installed machines, Germany accounts for over 18% of the European total. More than a third of Europe's new installations went to Germany, helping the base to grow by over 6,600 machines.

The researchers who conducted the study suggest that Germany's top ranking within Europe comes as no surprise. "With a population of over 80 million and a clear bias toward cash payments, Germany was expected to become the largest market in terms of ATM installations and total transactions," said Bob Callender, a Retail Banking Research spokesman. What's more, the researchers expect the gap between Germany and the rest of Europe to widen considerably in the coming years.

The study found the volume of cash withdrawals made at ATMs and cash dispensers in Europe rose 16% to reach 5,450 million transactions in 1994.

The highest number of withdrawal transactions were made in the United Kingdom, followed closely by France, and then Germany.

"Consumers in the European countries show a clear preference for making payments using cash," said Mr. Justice. "Even in France, where smart cards have made much inroads, cash is still king."

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