The number of automated teller machines in the United States increased by more than 14,000 last year, bringing the total above 100,000 for the first time.
The total rose by 15% to 109,080, according to the Chicago-based newsletter Bank Network News. The previous year's growth was only 8.6%, to 94,822.
Industry watchers attribute the spurt to a number of factors, most critically the continued emphasis on deploying ATMs away from traditional banking locations.
Banks are also taking advantage of consumers' willingness to use ATMs by adding more functionality to the ubiquitous units.
"ATMs are moving from pots to PANS - pretty advanced new stuff," said Michael Park, a vice president of regional sales for MasterCard International.
ATM vendors say there is a great deal of interest in terminals that not only provide cash but can also dispense coins and noncash documents like telephone cards, event tickets, and stamps.
"We plan to continue our aggressive ATM deployment strategy," said Dale Dentlinger, vice president of retail terminal services at Electronic Data Systems Corp., which claims to be the largest ATM deployer in the United States. "An ATM investment allows you to retain your customer franchise while you secure competitive advantage as a provider of multiple services."
The largest U.S.-based vendors of ATMs and cash dispensers reported record growth in shipped units in 1994 - both in the U.S. market and worldwide.
AT&T Global Information Solutions - which came to ATM industry prominence under its former identity as NCR - said it shipped a company- record 30,136 units worldwide and claimed the No. 1 position in that category.
The Dayton, Ohio-based vendor said it shipped 8,294 units within the United States, representing an increase of more than 54% over its 1993 U.S. shipment total.
It found the U.S. market particularly receptive to cash dispensers; close to 40% of its U.S. shipments were simple cash dispensers, most of them deployed at other than bank premises.
In 1994, the company signed several big contracts for off-premises machines, including an agreement with Minneapolis-based First Bank System to install 1,100 units in Circle K convenience stores, and a deal with Winn Dixie for 950 units in supermarkets.
"In the U.S. ATM market, 1994 became the year of the off-premises placement," said John Gray, vice president of financial products and systems marketing for AT&T Global Information Services.
"The off-premises market helped fuel our growth in the United States," he added, "and we see no signs of the market slowing down in 1995."
Interbold, the Canton, Ohio-based joint venture of Diebold Inc. and International Business Machines Corp., reported worldwide shipments of 18,680 units in 1994, up 29% from 1993.
In the United States, shipments rose by more than a third over 1993. The off-premises market played a big role in the growth, accounting for nearly 25% of new units shipped.
The vendor did not disclose how many of its shipments were cash dispensers. A spokesman pointed out, however, that the company continued to ship large numbers of cash dispensers to EDS for installation in 7-Eleven stores, fulfilling a 4,000-unit order announced in 1993.
Fujitsu-ICL Systems Inc. of Dallas, which runs a perennial third to its two Ohio-based competitors, said its shipments to the U.S. market grew by 21% in 1994.
The company claims an 8% to 10% share of the U.S. market and boldly predicts it will be No. 2 in the United States by the end of 1999.
"Through this year, our focus has been to establish our customer base, establish our sales organization, and fine-tune our product line," said David A. Baker, director of marketing for the financial system division, which is based in La Jolla, Calif. "For the second half of the decade, it is our mission to really begin to compete in this market."