It’s not everyday that you can tell a friend walking down the street, “Hold on a second, I need to stop at the ATM for some gold.”

But that’s the deal with a new ATM machine that debuted in Abu Dabhi recently — and with 500 new models worldwide, it may be coming to an ATM near you.

The gold-plated — literally — ATM is located inside the Emirates Palace Hotel, where one night’s stay in a three-bedroom suite goes for $11,500. The machine is called Gold to Go and it has a sophisticated software unit that tracks gold prices and updates them every 10 seconds. The machine also features anti-money laundering software, to thwart criminals and scam artists from turning stolen cash into gold. The ATM only takes cash right now, but upgrades will include technology that accepts credit and debit cards, according to the German firm that developed the machine.

The ATM’s release comes as gold is trading into the stratosphere — at about $1,200 per ounce, as of May 20.

Some additional features of the Gold to Go ATM:

  • The ATM dispenses gold in one-, five- and 10-gram increments. It will also dispense customized gold coins that are detailed with either a maple leaf, kangaroo or Krugerrand, in honor of major gold-producing countries Canada, Australia and South Africa.
  • The software inside the ATM updates gold prices every 10 minutes, and will hold that price for 10 minutes, until the price changes again.
  • The actual ATM boasts a gold-leaf finish (check out the video at The Telegraph Web Site).
  • While the developer has plans for up to 500 new machines worldwide, the next rollouts are scheduled to appear in Austria, Germany and Switzerland.
  • Each machine costs clients like the Emirates Hotel $28,000 — plus service charges.

Neither the developer nor the hotel have revealed the fees for using the machine, but it’s safe to assume that accessing a 10-gram gold bar is going to cost more than the $2 or $3 transaction fee associated with non-gold ATMs.

Security-wise, customers don’t have much to worry about. The ATM’s inventor, Thomas Geissler, tells The New York Times that the machines are “outfitted like an armored vehicle.”

With gold running at historic highs, that’s a relief, no doubt, to both customers and to the businesses that have a Gold to Go machine on the premises. Because in Abu Dhabi, at least, you never know when you’re going to need a gold bar on the fly.

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