Abu Dhabi vending machine spits out real gold

Abu Dhabi hotel has installed a gold vending machine that dispenses bars and coins, making it the first place to boast a permanent ATM for bullion.

Tim Hornyak
Crave freelancer Tim Hornyak is the author of "Loving the Machine: The Art and Science of Japanese Robots." He has been writing about Japanese culture and technology for a decade. E-mail Tim.
Tim Hornyak
2 min read

gold vending machine
Ex Oriente Lux

Can you spare some change, like a few hundred? I'd like to buy some gold from a vending machine.

It sounds like a tacky casino attraction, but a gold vending machine that's been set up at a hotel in Abu Dhabi is the real thing.

The five-star Emirates Palace Hotel installed the bullion ATM in its lobby as the first permanent gold vending machine in the world, according to Ex Oriente Lux, the German firm that developed it.

gold vending machine
Gold bars and coins come out of the hotel vending machine in a gift box. Ex Oriente Lux

The Gold To Go machine sells 24-carat gold bars weighing 1, 5, and 10 grams as well as gold coins from Canada, Australia, and South Africa. Each comes in a gift box.

The prices are updated every hour via a link to Ex Oriente Lux's online shop. The company says the prices are competitive because there are no staffing costs for the machine.

Depending on its contents, the machine can weigh up to 1,000 pounds. It's nearly 6 feet tall, and, of course, features a gold-leaf finish. Users navigate menu choices via a 19-inch touch screen, and can pay for their gold with cash or credit card.

The machine can handle up to 10 products, and inventory is monitored with RFID tags. Security features include a camera and an ID scanner to prevent money laundering. Ex Oriente says its machine is "largely burglar-proof and tamper-resistant."

The company believes guests at the opulent Emirates Palace will want a shiny souvenir of their stay despite gold's flirting with record highs of near $1,250 an ounce this week. It even quotes Goethe's Faust on its Web site: "Toward gold throng all, to gold cling all, yes, all!"