The National Bank of Pakistan(NPB) has again made Pakistan proud by installing the world’s highest automated teller machine (ATM) at 16007 above sea level at Khunjerab pass, commonly known as the Pak-China border.
Khunjerab Pass the Pakistan/China wall is located in the Karakoram Mountains. It is inside the northern border of Pakistan’s Gilgit-Baltistan Hunza, the Nagar District on the southwest edge of the Xinjiang region of China. It is no doubt a big tourist attraction with an increasing number of visitors. Let’s imagine traveling in the lofty snowcapped mountains amidst the Pak-China border at the elevation of 16007 meters and suddenly running out of cash so, there is nothing to worry about because the world’s highest ATM is there at your service.
The ATM uses solar and wind turbine for power. It is at the starting point of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CEPEC). It is operational around the clock, and special attention is given during winter when the temperature drops below the freezing point. The ATM is maintained and monitored 24 hours a day by the nearby branch located in Sost City.
It was installed on September 6, 2016. On November 18, 2016, it was awarded the Guinness Book of Records title. Initially, the title of the highest ATM was held by the Union Bank of India which installed its ATM in 2007 at Nathu-La pass. The pass is a centuries-old mountain pass found along the Silk Road, and it is about 14,300 feet above sea level in the Kupup area.
Besides tourists, who routinely need to replenish cash, the ATM is also popular with the local population and has become a landmark in the area. “The ATM is on the main highway and starting point of CEPEC (China Pakistan Economic Corridor). This is a very popular tourist site as well and withdrawals are mostly done by tourists,” Khan said.
Sheharzad Kaleem, who visited the area recently as a tourist, was very surprised to find an ATM at such an altitude where there is little else in the surroundings. “I was not expecting an ATM at this height. I didn’t need to use it but thought about it just for fun. To be honest, I also didn’t find anyone using the machine,” She said.
Kaleem said she found the idea a great marketing gimmick but was not convinced about its utility. “I didn’t understand the need for it in the middle of the snow where there is hardly anything else. Also, the next town after this pass is Sost which has several ATM machines,” said the tourist who is based in Dubai.
The ATM though also provides bill payment and transfer options. It is an ATM (not a cash deposit machine) and withdraws cash, as well as allows digital payment of bills and fund transfers, the bank said in an email statement.
The ATM, however, is operational round the clock. Special care is taken to continue its uninterrupted service during winters when the temperature drops below zero. According to the bank official, in order to ensure uninterrupted cash availability, the machine is maintained by its nearby branch.
The solar – and wind-powered machine serves the small number of residents and staff at this border crossing– and the adventurous travelers who flock to it as a badge of honor, taking pictures while transaction that brings new meaning to the phrase “cold, hard cash”.
“My account is frozen!” joked another visitor, South African retired Principal Ayesha Bayat, who was on holiday with her husband. “We’ve come from a country where we do have mountain ranges… but not like this. I am finding the panoramic views beautiful,” she said.
But building the landmark was no small feat and neither is maintaining it. Moreover, it has been observed that this ATM has not only created ease for the tourist and travelers and the locals as well. In a nutshell installation of the highest ATm in the world in Pakistan is a commendable initiative of NBP which has not only bagged a Guinness book of world records for Pakistan but also aims to facilitate trade, tourism, and locality in the region.
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