Hole in the Wall Dispenses Pure Gold

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"On the first night we had a lot of demand. One customer bought one of every product we have."

Installed beneath the gold-coated ceilings of Abu Dhabi's Emirates Palace hotel is the ultimate hole-in-the-wall—a money machine that dispenses pure gold.

The exterior of the machine is coated with a thin layer of gold and offers customers 320 items to choose from, ranging from gold bars that can weigh up to 10 grams, to customized gold coins.

Through a computer system, the ATM gold machine updates the gold price every 10 minutes to match international markets. The machine has proved a hit in a hotel where royalty and billionaires come for cappuccinos topped with gold flakes.

"The reason we chose Emirates Palace is because it really fits with the surroundings here," said German entrepreneur Thomas Geissler, creator of the "Gold to Go" brand and chief executive of Ex Oriente Lux.

"On the first night we had a lot of demand. One customer even bought one item of every product we have. All the gold is imported from Germany, and soon we will have a customized gold bar with a print of the Emirates Palace logo, which will be a nice souvenir for guests to take home."

The cash-for-gold machines were first tested in Germany in 2009, but Geissler chose Abu Dhabi for the official launch of his invention because of the region's high demand for gold.

The entrepreneur's timing is spot-on, as investors flock to gold as a safe haven from economic turbulence.

Gold hit record highs near $1,250 an ounce in Europe today as investors bought the metal to protect against sovereign risk in the euro zone and instability in the foreign exchange markets.

"We expect incremental safe-haven demand to ebb as the Greek crisis subsides. However, gold will remain a much sought-after hedge should fiscal concerns over Greece or other EMU countries mount again."

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