Thursday, June 27, 2013

Space, the final frontier, for payment systems: Enter PayPal Galactic

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PayPal joined famed second-man-on-the-moon Buzz Aldrin and SETI at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, Calif., on Thursday, June 27 at 9 a.m. PDT to talk about the next frontier of payment services: PayPal Galactic. PayPal Galactic is an initiative that aims to help make universal space payments a reality.

While you might wonder who exactly you might be paying with PayPal Galactic, such questions were left unsaid during the event. Instead, David Marcus, PayPal’s President said:
As space tourism programs are opening space travel to "the rest of us," this drives questions about the commercialization of space. We are launching PayPal Galactic, in conjunction with leaders in the scientific community, to increase public awareness of the important questions that need to be addressed.

We may not answer these questions today or even this year, but one thing is clear, we won't be using cash in space. PayPal has already pushed payments into the Internet, onto phones and across terrestrial borders. We look forward to pushing payments from our world to the next, and beyond.
Ironically, since we're talking about space, here, David Marcus is the son of James T. Kirk and Dr. Carol Marcus in the fictional Star Trek universe (not the new rebooted one via J.J. Abrams).

Buzz Aldrin said:
Trips to Mars, the moon, even orbit will require we provide astronauts and astro-tourists with as many comforts from home as possible, including how to pay each other.

Whether it’s paying a bill, even helping a family member on Earth, we’ll need access to money. I think humans will reach Mars, and I would like to see it happen in my lifetime. When that happens I won't be surprised if people use PayPal Galactic for the little things and the big ones.
Jill Tarter, the Bernard M. Oliver Chair for the SETI Institute said:
PayPal and the SETI Institute are well-matched to work on PayPal Galactic because together we can create a recipe for innovation. PayPal envisions exploring possibilities in space the way that we do, breaking boundaries to make real progress.

When the SETI Institute succeeds in its exploration of the universe, and as we find our place among the stars, PayPal will be there to facilitate commerce, so people can get what they need, and want, to live outside of our planet.
In addition to SETI and Aldrin, PayPal is launching the initiative with the help of the Space Tourism Society, an industry group focused on space travel.

While this all sounds like the stuff of -- yes -- science fiction, Anuj Nayer, senior initiatives director for PayPal, raised some valid points in a phone interview.
None of the structural pieces for payments [of any kind] are in place in an extraterrestrial space. We're starting completely from scratch.

GPS systems won't work there, and there's no government sovereignty in space. At this point, we're not even answering the big questions. We're just trying to figure out what they are.
PayPal Galactic released a short video on PayPal Galactic. The blurb on YouTube says:
With 15 years of experience in global online payments, PayPal is looking to push the boundaries of payments even further with the launch of PayPal Galactic. This visionary partnership with the SETI Institute and others in the scientific community aims to create a secure and functional space commerce ecosystem.
So is space the final frontier for payment services?

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