John Gapper

There is nothing like a real-world indicator for an economic phenomenon so I was gratified this week to discover a new proxy for economic growth and development – the number of automated teller machines (ATMs).

Bill Nuti, the chief executive of NCR, the US company that makes ATMs for banks and and point-of-sale checkout technology for retailers, told me that China has just overtaken Japan to become the world’s largest ATM market after the US.

He estimates that the US has 1m ATM machines while both China and Japan have about 400,000 each. Brazil, one of the most rapidly expanding markets for financial services, is currently in fourth place with about 175,000 ATM machines. Read more