World's First Gold-Dispensing ATM – Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates - Atlas Obscura
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Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

World's First Gold-Dispensing ATM

Feed it cash, get your very own gold bar. 

Based on the notion that flowers are “more expensive[…] They wilt and you (as a man) don’t get as many points at home as if you bring gold,” the German company TG Gold-Super-Markt began providing the public a service for which it clamored: ATMs dispensing funds in cold, hard bullion in place of cash.

After a single-day test run in a Frankfurt train station, the world’s first gold bar-dispensing ATM opened to much fanfare in the lobby of the Emirates Palace hotel in Abu Dhabi in 2010. Since its debut in the UAE, a small but mighty array of these counterintuitive little machines have cropped up around the world – arguably the most fitting of which can be found in the lobby of Las Vegas’ Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino.

By removing the overhead costs of a brick-and-mortar store, Gold To Go’s people suggest that the service it offers its clientele is one of supreme value, bolstered by the opportunity to invest in economically stable, tangible goods available in the blink of an eye.

But, when catering to a demographic for whom traditional demonstrations of wealth and thoughtful gestures simply won’t do, it’s important to diversify the product being offered, as the novelty of owning a one-size-fits-all gold bar loses its luster quickly. It follows, therefore, that in addition to offering 24-carat bars in 1, 5 and 10 gram sizes, the ATM also has a built-in “gift box” option. Inside these gift boxes, gold coins embossed with symbols such as a maple leaf, kangaroo, and more can be churned out as lavish tokens of affection that will avoid the aforementioned dreaded wilt of fresh cut flowers.

The machine contains a computer that tracks the market price of gold in realtime. Failsafes are built-in to prevent money laundering, including a maximum of three purchases in a single day, and a required ID scan accompanying all purchases exceeding 1000 Euro. Balancing out such practicalities is the lone fact that the machine itself is plated in gold leaf, which makes it a delightfully literal gold ATM. 

Update November 2017: The ATM has been removed.