Who knew that a company like PayPal wanted to go to the moon? In recent days, it’s announced its plans to launch inter-planetary payments. This is exactly as it sounds: a system for buying things in space. We’re not entirely sure about how many McDonalds franchises, book stores and coffee shops there are in outer space, but a payment option is being made available for those who may be jonesin’ for a Big Mac.
PayPal in Outer Space
But before you convince yourself PayPal has gone a bit “cray cray”, you should know that it’s not the first company that’s focused on outer space potential. Companies like Virgin Galactic, which said this past May that it’s on track to become the first ever “commercial spaceline” and Space X are all doing their part to bring the “go to Mars” dream full circle and into reality. PayPal, for its part, says it’s all about preparation – you know, in case space commerce ever becomes a reality.
We don’t have all the answers right now, but it’s clear we won’t be using cash when we’re in space,
PayPal president David Marcus told the media earlier this week.
We feel it’s time now – not next year, not when space tourism starts to happen – to start figuring out what this looks like.
A presser is slated for Thursday and as its guest of honor, Buzz Aldrin will be sharing his thoughts.
The SETI Institute and other unnamed partners plan to present their PayPal Galactic initiative with the goal of bringing together those involved in space industry. Addressing the challenges is just the first step in a very long and tedious project.
Some companies are already designing space hotels. We’d tell readers how to make reservations with their credit cards if we knew. Frankly, it boggles the mind. That said, there was a time when the thought of a small, handheld gadget could actually be used wirelessly and could function as a camera, video camera, communications tool and phone – and not be any bigger than a credit card – could ever work.
Owned by EBay, PayPal is partnering with two leading groups, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute and the Space Tourism Society, to answer the many questions, specifically, those regarding a “commercialization of space.” And if you’re wondering, PayPal wants this latest “spacey” opportunity to be up and running within a year.
Paying Visa from Venus?
It does sound far fetched; however, space commerce just might be the next big thing in our technological evolution. If it ever comes to pass, it would affect the American banking system, fraud management (sort of gives me meaning to “cyber criminals”, yes?), regulatory considerations and much more. We’re still trying to figure out how societies could be built in outer space; and by the way, what exactly would the financial space currency look like?
Marcus agreed that that it’s a massive transition and all of the logistics must be in place “if space tourism is to become a viable business”, Marcus said. And, he also admits that it’s going to be a tough sell,
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.
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,
Pie in the Sky
Jill Tarter, SETI Institute Chairwoman, has another message: casual space travel is much closer than the average consumer might think. She explains that for those who are part of the “space community”, insist it’s legitimate and that it doesn’t feel like a “pie in the sky” theory to them. Within a few years, she believes more people will be leaving planet Earth far more often and that once the actual value is determined, that’s when outer space commerce will begin to really take off.
PayPal has an example, though many might have thought the financial company was kidding when a spokesperson said,
Astronauts on space stations need, for example, to pay for bills back on earth and for entertainment, like music and e-books, while in space.
Contrary to what many might think, PayPal doesn’t have an endless source of funding opportunities. As a result, it’s taking an approach that’s quickly becoming mainstream: crowdfunding. The payment processer company is using FundRazr as its partner for getting the financial backing. The funds will be used primarily for research and later, it could be extended or redefined. Of course, the question that many are now asking is if other financial brands will turn their collective eye to the sky.
PayPal, which boasts close to 129 million active accounts, 25 currencies (and growing) and at least 193 markets, said the need isn’t just now developing, but rather, “the need for a payment system beyond earth already exists”.
Human nature makes us fear the unknown. It’s not a stretch to think that most would avoid space travel, at least during the first few years after it’s available. No one wants to be the one to take that leap of faith – even if they were assured of being able to make their Visa payments or transfer money from their savings accounts into their banking accounts.
Even though The Jetsons made life on other planets seem exciting with instant gratitude at every turn, there are more than a few folks who wonder why space travel couldn’t just be left to those who animate characters for a living.
For now, though, keep your credit cards in your wallet because despite the efforts and insistence of PayPal, we’re quite certain you won’t be able to order pizza from outer space for quite some time.
Would you space travel? Is it an idea that’s arrived just in time for those with a sense of adventure or is it one of those far fetched ideas that seemingly fall out of the Hollywood sky?
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