Don’t Look Now, but I Think PayPal is Getting Into Space Money
Not all that glitters is gold
This was not a day that I was expecting to have two posts on The Mary Sue about currency, but here we go: PayPal, with SETI and Buzz Aldrin, has launched PayPal Galactic, a service dedicated to solving the problem of money in space. Which apparently is genuinely a problem, or at least it will be soon. Well, eventually.
See, when it comes to space, coins are heavy to put in rockets and in any case can’t actually be exchanged with anyone on Earth, and the magnetic strips on credit cards tend to have bad reactions to all the, you know, radiation up there. And unlike space food, you can’t just dehydrate money and then sell it to tourists in the form of tiny balls: in a very real sense, bringing cash into space is not worth the money. So, PayPal Galactic, which looks ahead to the day when space tourism is more widespread and the ability to easily pay your bills and buy space souvenirs while you’re on your vacation is something that’s actually relevant to more than a handful of people. Says PayPal’s president:
As space tourism programs are opening space travel to ‘the rest of us’, this drivesquestions about the commercialization of space. We are launching PayPal Galactic, inconjunction with leaders in the scientific community, to increase public awareness of the important questions that need tobe addressed. We may not answer these questions today or even this year, butone thing is clear, we won’t be using cash in space. PayPal has already pushed payments onto the Internet, onto mobilephones and across terrestrial borders. We now look forward to pushing payments from our world to the next, and beyond.
Those questions are mostly based on solving the problems of a cash-free space economy and how it will interact with terrestrial financial systems, like “What will our standard currency look like in a truly cash-free interplanetary society?” and “How will risk and fraud management systems need to evolve?” “Space hotels” are merely five to ten years away, asserts the founder of the Space Tourism Society in PayPal’s press release. I won’t be holding my breath, but at least now I shouldn’t be counting my pennies.
I should be taking them to the bank and having them deposited in my internet accessible checking account.