If you travel overseas with any frequency, you probably know which credit cards carry foreign transaction fees and which don’t. But if you travel to outer space, will your no-foreign-fees credit card hit you with an extra charge? Will you even be able to use a credit card in space? PayPal Galactic wants to help answer those questions.
It may sound like an April Fool’s joke, but PayPal is not fooling around about PayPal Galactic. Announced in conjunction with PayPal’s fifteenth anniversary celebration, PayPal Galactic is an initiative by the online payments platform that aims to support the future of space commerce.
PayPal has partnered with the SETI Institute—a private research firm dedicated to the search for life beyond earth—and the Space Tourism Society to create the Galactic initiative, which will explore questions like:
- What currency will we use in the cashless interplanetary society of the future?
- How will financial institutions adapt to space payments?
- What impact will intergalactic payments have on fraud and risk management systems?
- Will space payments be regulated, and if so, how?
- What will customer support look like in an interplanetary society?
To help answer these questions, PayPal has recruited astronaut Buzz Aldrin, the second person to set foot on the moon, along with a host of other scientific leaders. In a press conference last week Aldrin contemplated the needs of future travelers to the moon and beyond.
“Whether it’s paying a bill, even helping a family member on Earth, we’ll need access to money,” said Aldrin. “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.”
John Spencer, founder of the Space Tourism Society, also looked toward the future of payments in space, anticipating that space travel and tourism is only a few years down the road. “Within five to ten years the earliest types of ‘space hotels’ and orbital and lunar commerce will be operational and in need of a payment system,” explained Spencer.
While PayPal does not yet have an answer to the problem of payments in space, they intend to be at the forefront of the issue. PayPal president David Marcus says that for now, the company simply wants to raise public awareness and explore the possible questions and answers that will come up as more people prepare for blastoff.
“We may not answer these questions today or even this year, but one thing is clear, we won’t be using cash in space,” said Marcus. “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.”