Imagine traveling through the beautiful mountains near the Pakistan-China border, almost 15,000 feet above sea level, and suddenly realizing you are in desperate need of cash. Don’t worry, the “World’s Highest ATM” is nearby and ready to assist.
According to the National Bank of Pakistan, this ATM in Khunjerab Pass is the highest in the world. It is located at an elevation of 15,397 feet in the snow-capped Karakoram Mountains. This pass connects Pakistan’s Gilgit-Baltistan Hunza-Nagar District to China’s Xinjiang region.
The bank had a difficult time installing and maintaining the ATM at such a high altitude. Ovais Asad Khan, Divisional Head of the Strategic Marketing Division, thanked the local team, the Pakistan Army, and local authorities for their assistance. For help with the required height, the bank consulted the Guinness Book of World Records. The ATM is powered by renewable energy, specifically solar power, and a wind turbine, as part of their green programme. It is operational around the clock.
While the ATM serves tourists who often need to withdraw cash, it has also become a popular landmark for the local population. Khan explained that the ATM is located on the main highway and is the starting point of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Although some visitors find it intriguing, like Sheharzad Kaleem who saw it as a marketing gimmick, others question its necessity since there are other ATMs in the nearby town of Sost.
Apart from cash withdrawals, the ATM also offers bill payment and fund transfer services. Special measures are taken to ensure its uninterrupted operation during the winter months when temperatures drop below freezing. The nearby branch in Sost City monitors the ATM round the clock to ensure cash availability.
Previously, the highest ATM in the world was located in India, installed by Union Bank of India in 2007 at Nathu-La, a mountain pass on the Silk Route, at an altitude of around 14,300 feet.