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The number of ATMs worldwide grew 5 percent in 2015, reaching 3.2 million by year-end, according to "Global ATM Market and Forecasts to 2021," a new report from RBR.
China and India are the largest contributors to this growth; in both nations, authorities are urging financial institutions to deploy greater numbers of ATMs as a means to bring unbanked populations into the formal banking system, RBR said in a press release.
RBR forecasts 4 million ATMs will be installed worldwide by 2021. Asia-Pacific will grow 46 percent and will account for well over half of the global total.
The Middle East and Africa will see comparable growth prompted by similar drivers, but will represent a much smaller number of ATMs overall.
Growth in other regions will be significantly lower — 7 percent or less. North America will remain the second largest market, however, its total installed base will be only one-fifth of the size of the base in Asia-Pacific. To put this into perspective, the two regions had the same number of ATMs as recently as the early 2000s.
"China and India have seen enormous growth in ATM numbers over the last few years and RBR forecasts this will continue as authorities in these markets are determined to use ATM deployment to spread access to financial services as far and as wide as possible," said Rowan Berridge, who led the RBR study.
With the exception of central and eastern Europe, all ATM markets expanded during 2015. In central and eastern Europe, the number of ATMs declined by 7,000, as the result of economic woes in Russia and Ukraine.
RBR said that in most established markets, ATM and cash withdrawal numbers continue to increase, indicating that, despite the challenge posed by alternative payment methods, such as contactless cards and mobile payments, cash use remains resilient.