If you ever find that you are lost in Antarctica with just your credit card then fear not, they have an ATM machine. In fact, it is likely the most isolated ATM machine in the world. While there are few people living in Antarctica and fewer hours of sunlight in a year, money still plays an important role.
The McMurdo Station is the largest science research lab in Antarctica with a population ranging from 200 to around 1000. Despite the small population, there is still a coffee shop, a bar, a general store and a post office in the area. With all this business taking place an ATM was installed in 1998 by Wells Fargo bank. While it is great for anyone staying there for a long period of time, it is impossible not to wonder what happens when the machine malfunctions in a low season. It would likely be months before a repairman could service the unit.
Wells Fargo says that they have tried to cater for any unforeseen issues. They have trained local staff in McMurdo to make any basic repairs. They decided to install two ATMs in the base so that if one breaks there is another operating and the second one could also be used for parts if both units have a breakdown.
The ATM only dispenses US dollars despite being closest to the country of New Zealand. As there is no such thing as an Antarctic dollar the exchange office does sometimes have to offer local bills to be used in the closed economy.
While it is unclear what happens when the ATM runs out of money it is unlikely to present a problem in the near future. A run on the banks is unlikely to happen in the most isolated place in the world.