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Central and Eastern Europe remains one of the world's hot growth markets for ATM deployment, according to Retail Banking Research Ltd., a London-based strategic research and consulting firm.

"The ATM market in the region has been growing strongly for several years. In 2007, it exploded," Retail Banking Research says in a report released last week. "High numbers of new machines in Russia, the Ukraine and Kazakhstan, in addition to surprising growth in Poland and Serbia, made this a bumper year."

ATM deployments last year in Central and Eastern Europe reached 119,638, up 34% compared with 89,501 in 2006, Retail Banking Research says.

Retail Banking Research considered Poland one of Central and Eastern Europe's mature markets. But Poland continues to grow because of increased competition from independent ATM deployers, Retail Banking Research notes. The Polish ATM market increased by 1,582 units last year, the country's largest gain since 1999, the report says.

The strategic consulting firm attributes the growth in ATM deployment to independent ATM deployers, such as Leawood, Kan.-based Euronet Worldwide Inc. and First Data International, which is owned by Greenwood Village, Colo.-based First Data Corp.

However, increasing the number of ATMs has a downside. The average number of cash withdrawals per ATM per month declined in 2007 because of the larger number of ATMs.

"The increase in the number of installations continues to have a diluting effect on transaction volumes," Retail Banking Research says.

Consumers made more than 3.7 billion cash withdrawals last year at ATMs in Central and Eastern Europe, the report says. That compares with 2.9 billion in 2006.

Average transactions, however, fell to 2,581 cash withdrawals per-ATM per month, the report says.

In 2006, the per-ATM average was 2,769 cash withdrawals per month.

Estonia recorded the heaviest use of ATMs with 5,719 cash withdrawals per ATM per month. Retail Banking Research attributed Estonians' heavy use to frequent visits to withdraw small amounts of cash.

On the other hand, Kazakhstan witnessed the lowest level of cash withdrawals from ATMs–1,417 per month per ATM, the report says. Unlike consumers in Estonia, consumers in Kazakhstan withdraw large amounts of cash from ATMs and thus make fewer trips.

Average withdrawal amounts from ATMs in Kazakhstan are the second highest in the region, the report says.

Retail Banking Research studied 15 countries, including Kazakhstan, Estonia, Russia, Serbia, Ukraine and Poland.


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