PayPal Galactic to boldly go where no credit card has gone before
In a surprise announcement this week, PayPal confirmed that it will be launching the all-new initiative PayPal Galactic, a first step towards the management of commerce and universal payments in outer space. They are, by the way, deadly serious.
The move comes in response to growing speculation surrounding space tourism – burgeoning companies such as Virgin Galactic and Space X, at least, are convinced that the sky will not be the limit – and the problems that subsequently arise.
Issues to be resolved include what the standard currency will look like on a presumably cash-free interplanetary society, how it is to be regulated, and who will provide customer support. In addition, there is the question of how existing banking, risk and fraud management systems will need to adapt.
In response to scepticism regarding whether or not the initiative is a mere PR stunt, PayPal president David Marcus said, “It’s easy to perceive this as kind of gee-whiz, even silly, if you just read the headline… But these are real, difficult, important problems that need to be sorted out.”
The initiative brings the eBay-owned PayPal together with two leading groups in the scientific community, the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute and the Space Tourism Society.
PayPal has also said that there is in fact already a need for an interplanetary payment system even before factoring in the new demands of space tourism. Astronauts currently inhabiting space stations still need to pay for daily commodities, such as music, film and e-books, bought in space – as well as their bills down on Earth.
Talk of a space currency may seem outlandish, but in reality this is not the first time the topic has been broached. In 2007, scientists developed the Quasi Universal Intergalactic Denomination, a potential universal currency.
Evidently, Marcus wishes for PayPal to be at the very forefront of this venture, adding that PayPal Galactic will hopefully begin to answer “the big questions around the commercialisation of space.”
Closer to home, speculation continues over if, and how, PayPal intends to integrate Bitcoin. It is clear, however, that P2P currency has Marcus’s full support.