June 27, 2013
PayPal Galactic Will Offer Currency Transactions In Space And Beyond
Lawrence LeBlond for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
As space tourism quickly gains acceptance, with companies like Virgin Galactic paving the way for ordinary humans to venture into a realm previously only available to specially trained men and women, PayPal wants to be there to allow transactions to continue as they do here on terra firma.
It has been nearly fifteen years since PayPal spread its wings, looking to become a global currency – building the first money transfer and payment system for the entire world. PayPal is a subsidiary of eBay and was co-founded by Elon Musk, who also runs SpaceX, one company looking to carry humans farther into space than any has gone before. The currency company can almost certainly be credited for launching the online payment category and has truly changed the way the world uses money.
Now that the online payment powerhouse has secured that area of the market, it wants to expand its breadth, flying into the realms of space and changing how money is used beyond the constraints of the third rock from the sun. As PayPal starts planning for the future, it only makes sense to envision payments on a whole new playing field.
One reason this makes sense is because of a Russian company that is currently looking to not only fly ordinary people into space, but to also give them vacations in space. Orbital Technologies is currently creating a commercial space station that will house the first hotel to orbit the earth rather than be planted on it. And also, as NASA, Space X, and others begin planning manned missions to Mars, PayPal is looking to offer humans a way to pay and collect for their services, be it on Earth, in space, or even on the Red Planet.
PayPal said it will be addressing the challenges of a currency system beyond the confines of the planet, touting that it is currently the only company prepared to deliver payments beyond Earth. The company said it not only wants to be the world’s most loved way to pay but also the preferred way to pay when not on Earth.
The company’s goals were announced yesterday (June 26), saying its PayPal Galactic initiative will be launching Thursday, live from the SETI Institute. It will be supported by key groups and organizations in the scientific community and aims to bring together space industry leaders to work out the challenges of commercializing space.
Such challenges include: determining what standard currency will look like in cash-free interplanetary society; how banking systems will have to adapt to off-world markets; evolution of risk and fraud management systems; conforming to new rules and regulations; and developing new customer support solutions.
Addressing these challenges now is important because there already exists a need for a payment system off Earth. Astronauts aboard the International Space Station and other orbiting habitats still need to pay for life’s necessities – everything from their earth-based utility bills to their entertainment, such as music, movies and e-books.
PayPal said in a statement the “functionality is already in place for us to facilitate transactions across the globe – internet connectivity, a bank account, and an e-mail address or mobile phone number are all you need to use PayPal. Our robust and proven systems that help us to transact safely and securely in 25 currencies across multiple banking systems, are built to be scalable – out into the solar system and beyond.
“Creating a secure and functional commerce system that can operate in space at scale will not be easy, but with the support of the scientific community, other technology companies and the public at large, we hope to find the solutions to address these challenges,” the statement continued. “This is just the beginning. Specific details still need to be addressed, and we look forward to keeping you updated with our progress and to the day when we are truly able to make space a commercial reality.”
PayPal President David Marcus will introduce the new initiative alongside Frank Drake, Chairman Emeritus of SETI, Margaret Race, senior research scientist at SETI, John Spencer, founder and President of the Space Tourism Society, and former NASA astronaut Buzz Aldrin.
The initiative’s official announcement can be seen live Thursday at 9:00 am PDT (12:00 pm EDT) at the PayPal Galactic website.