The Automated Teller Machine, better known as an ATM, is one of the most convenient innovations in banking. The device allows consumers to perform quick self-service transactions such as deposits, withdrawals, bill payments, and account transfers. But do you know how many ATMs are in Antarctica?
There are only two ATMs in Antarctica, both of which are at McMurdo Station, and only one of them works. The broken one exists solely to cannibalize for parts or spare things required to keep the other one alive and operational.
The Lonely ATM Machine
In 1998, the banking conglomerate installed an Automated Teller Machine (ATM) at McMurdo Station, the continent’s largest science hub. McMurdo’s population ranges from 250 to more than 1000 people depending on the season. And, as in any small community, commerce is essential. Money is exchanged in what amounts to a closed economy to patronize coffee shops, general stores, bars, or the post office. Some places only accept cash, while others have a credit card minimum that is difficult to meet when you only need a few items.
Our ATMs at McMurdo Station are the southernmost ATMs in the world, “In fact, they’re the only ones on the entire continent of Antarctica, kind of cool to say that.Kristopher Dahl, Wells Fargo Spokesperson
The McMurdo Station is a U.S. According to NASA, the Antarctic research station established in 1956 is the largest community in Antarctica. In order to meet the financial needs of its 250 to 1,000 residents, Wells Fargo installed an ATM around the year 2000.
According to David Parker, vice president of ATM Banking at Wells Fargo, money circulated by ATMs is constantly recycled, so cash vendors are not required to replenish the supply. (Source: Weather)
How Do They Maintain the Machine?
David Parker stated that a technician is dispatched every two years to perform preventative hardware maintenance on the ATM.
And, even though there are two ATMs, only one is in use at any time.
The other is one that they can sort of cannibalize, if you will, for parts or spare things that they need to make the other one live and operational.David Parker, Vice President of ATM Banking at Wells Fargo
According to Kristopher Dahl, a spokesperson for Wells Fargo, the company trains McMurdo staff to perform simple repairs.
Every two years, both machines are serviced and brought up to speed on the latest technology. The vendors chosen for that job undergo a psychological exam and a physical to make sure they’re equipped to deal with the Antarctic climate in case they get held over.Kristopher Dahl, Wells Fargo Spokesperson
What Currency Does the ATM Dispense?
Even though McMurdo is near New Zealand territory, the ATM only accepts American currency. (Staff can exchange money at Scott Base, which is about two miles away.) There is no Antarctic dollar, but the Antarctica Overseas Exchange Office produces “collectible” bills that they’ll buy or sell for face value until the phony money expires.
Naturally, we wondered what would happen if someone lost their mind and had the financial resources to max out their daily withdrawal limit until they depleted the ATM’s cash reserves, destroying an entire continent’s economy.
That’s interesting, for security reasons, we can’t share how much cash is in the machine or other related information.” Anyone planning any type of foul play should take note: there’s a camera in the unit.Kristopher Dahl, Wells Fargo Spokesperson
Image from Awkward