Average transaction volumes at European automated teller machines fell in 1995 for the sixth consecutive year, Retail Banking Research Ltd. reported.

The statistic indicates that banks in Europe - now the world's biggest market for ATMs - continue to install the machines at a rate that outstrips the growth of public demand for them.

The London-based research firm said western Europe accounted for 30%, or 146,687, of the 483,000 ATMs in the world last year. Japan had 26.4%, the United States 25.4%.

While Europe's machine total rose 10% in the year, transactions per machine per month dropped 4%, to 3,296. They are 17% below their 1989 peak of 3,900.

Retail Banking Research predicted a free-for-all in the marketplace as banks try to improve their machines' attractiveness to customers in terms of both location and service level.

The firm also estimated the worldwide bank capital expenditure on ATMs at $15 billion, plus $10 billion in annual running costs - "more than the total combined expenditure on more recent and glamorous delivery channels" like the Internet.

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