The highest-altitude cash machine in the world is situated at the Khunjerab Pass border between China and Pakistan, at an altitude of 4,693 meters.
In the past years, the ATM has become one of the world’s most awe-inspiring pieces of technology. The Khunjerab Pass border goes through Pakistan’s northern Gilgit-Baltistan province and harbors the world’s highest fully functional ATM. It was installed by the National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) in 2016. The machine runs on solar and wind- power. The pass is the highest paved border crossing in the world.
Installing the world’s highest ATM – a title certified by Guinness World Records – was quite an ordeal, as expected. The National Bank of Pakistan took four months before it could complete the project. Providing maintenance and refilling the machine with cash on a regular basis is also a challenging matter, as the nearest bank is a staggering 82 kilometers away.
Zahid Hussain, branch manager of the Sost NBP branch, the nearest to the world’s highest ATM, is responsible for this task. He drives up to the machine, in extreme winds, storms, frequent landslides and tricky mountain passes to ensure it is in working smoothly.
The ATM is not a busy site. It is mostly used by the border guards who collect their monthly salaries from it, a few locals, and the people who cross the border through the pass. That said, around 4 to 5 million rupees ($18,350 – $23,000) are withdrawn from the machine every couple of weeks.
A National Bank of Pakistan spokesperson told the BBC that it usually takes a person between two and two and a half hours to reach the world’s highest ATM when it needs emergency repairs.
“They might be insignificant in numbers, but they often reside in the huge park itself and don’t have any other medium to transfer their salaries to loved ones and family,” Zahid Hussain said.