Imagine driving through the beautiful mountains near the Pakistan-China border, over 15,000 feet above sea level, and suddenly realizing that you need cash urgently. Don’t worry, because the “World’s Highest ATM” is nearby, ready to help.
The National Bank of Pakistan claims that this ATM, located at Khunjerab Pass, is the highest in the world. Situated in the snow-capped Karakoram Mountains, it stands at an altitude of 15,397 feet. This pass is on the border between Pakistan’s Gilgit–Baltistan Hunza–Nagar District and China’s Xinjiang region.
Installing and maintaining the ATM at such a high altitude was no easy task for the bank. Ovais Asad Khan, Divisional Head of Strategic Marketing Division, expressed gratitude to the local team, Pakistan Army, and local authorities for their support. The bank consulted the Guinness Book of World Records for guidance on the required height. As part of their green initiative, the ATM is powered by renewable energy, specifically solar power and a wind turbine. It operates 24/7.
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.