The country of Tuvalu has no ATM!
Tuvalu is not only physically remote from the rest of the world. The technical remoteness is making life quite interesting here in the Pacific. Everything that my modern life depend on: my bank cards and my mobile phone are totally useless here on Tuvalu.
One thing that I discovered when entering this island almost 5 weeks ago is that Tuvalu has no ATM. I also discovered that the internet connections (I tried several) are too slow to access my internet-banking. So the most pressing question we faced 6 days before Christmas was: How do we get money?
Tuvalu has to banks: Tuvalu National Bank and the Development Bank of Tuvalu. In the national bank foreigners (or pala(n)gis as we are called) can get an account if they can provide something that confirms that they are going to do some work/research etc. on Tuvalu. Then when you filled out the form, you get (guess what…) a PASS BOOK!
If you don’t remember what a pass book looks like, this one has 7 columns: date, amount in words, withdrawal, deposit, balance, one box for the signature (of the employee) and one for stamps. Then you can actually get money through international transfers or through Money Gram. In both cases you’ll have to ”collect” the transfer upstairs and then take them out directly or deposit them into your account.
The only way to get money is then at the bank, but when it is payday (on Thursday), it is also queuing day in Tuvalu National Bank.
Tuvaluans use the Australian dollar (that is currently about the same as a US dollar). It seems that Tuvalu is constantly in a situation of notes and coins scarcity. It is the reason why, a poster a the airport invites the tourists and the Tuvaluans leaving the country to let their money on Tuvalu…