June 30, 2014 08:15 PM
Islanders across Indonesia’s vast archipelago are set to have access to cash like never before, thanks to floating bank branches. PT Bank Rakyat Indonesia is launching four customized boats, complete with ATMs, in order to better serve millions of Indonesians who still have no bank account. Among them will be inhabitants on the far-flung outpost of Run, an island some 1,550 miles from Jakarta. With 17,500 islands to serve, these ATMs could be reaching some of the most remote regions of the world. But ATMs located in strange, far-away places are not unusual. In fact cash machines seem to be just about anywhere.
Wells Fargo introduced a pair of ATMs at McMurdo Station in Antarctica in the 1990s. Located on the southern tip of Ross Island, these ATMs are just about as remote as it gets. Crews are sent down to carry out maintenance on the machines during the summer, but researchers at the station have to stock and service the ATMs the rest of the year.
India’s rural villages
Hundreds of solar powered ATMs have been introduced to remote villages across India where power supplies are non-existent or extremely unreliable. With just one in 20 of the 600,000 villages possessing a commercial bank branch and 60 per cent of rural dwellers still without a bank account, improving access could transform financial inclusion for millions of inhabitants.
Nagqu in Tibet is home to what is thought to be the world's highest ATM. Situated at around 14,300 feet above sea level, the Agricultural Bank of China cash machine is probably one of the least used ATMs anywhere. It’s a long way from anywhere in Nagqu, which sits 186 miles from the Tibetan capital of Lhasa. The town will also soon be the site of the world’s highest airport.
If McMurdo Station is the most southerly ATM, equally remote is the cash machine located at Longyearbyen, Norway. High up in the Arctic Circle it is the world’s most northerly ATM. Solar power wouldn’t work well here, with the sun not seen at all for four months of the year. Sunrise is March 8th and sunset October 25th. Longyearbyen, with a population of just over 2,000, is also home to world’s northernmost church, post office, museum, commercial airport and university.