PayPal launches quest for intergalactic currency

Jun 27, 2013 by Glenn Chapman
Visitors walk past an Ebay and PayPal stand at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on February 27, 2013. PayPal has launched a quest for an intergalactic currency, saying it is time to figure out what space travelers will use as cash.

Earthbound financial transactions service PayPal launched a quest for an intergalactic currency, saying it is time to figure out what space travelers will use as cash.

"The time has now come for us to start planning for the future; a future where we aren't just talking about global payments," said PayPal president David Marcus. "We are expanding our vision off earth into ."

PayPal Galactic Initiative will be formally unveiled Thursday at the SETI Institute campus in the Silicon Valley city of Mountain View, with attendees to include famed alien seeker Jill Tarter and former US astronaut Buzz Aldrin.

The initiative, headed by PayPal, aims to bring together parties with roles to play in the commercialization of space to explore a framework for a financial system that spans galaxies.

"From 'Star Trek' to 'Battlestar Galactica', they all have currency and they all gloss over the fact that it works," PayPal senior director of communications Anuj Nayar said, referring to hit science fiction films and television shows.

"We are at that point now where it seems a natural time for scientists, governments, and everybody else to start taking this seriously."

Astronauts living in the International Space Station still have bills to pay, even if they are just buying digital books or music for whiling away time in orbit, Marcus reasoned.

British billionaire Richard Branson poses in the window of a replica of the Virgin Galactic spaceship in England on July 11, 2012. Operations such as Virgin Galactic and Space X have put the prospect of space tourism on the near horizon.

"I think that if we are in fact successful at finding ways to work and play in space, we're going to want to be there too; you and me," said Tarter, whose real-life work inspired Jodie Foster's character in the 1997 film "Contact".

"Inevitably, it's going to need some kind of monetary currency."

Operations such as Virgin Galactic and Space X have put the prospect of on the near horizon, and when tourists leave Earth they will need traveling money, according to PayPal.

A Space Hotel is proposed to be circling the planet in about three years, raising the prospect of porters to tip and room service to pay for.

"As we start planning to inhabit other planets, the practical realities of life still need to be addressed," Marcus said.

"We will still need a way to pay for life's necessities, back here and out there, though exactly how we'll do that isn't currently clear."

PayPal was founded 15 years ago this month with a vision of becoming a global currency, so it is fitting to celebrate the birthday by looking to the stars, worldwide product vice president Hill Ferguson told AFP.

"At first you laugh it off and think it crazy," Ferguson said. "But space exploration and the thought of commercializing space are much closer than a lot of people would think."

US Internet retail giant eBay late last year cut jobs and contractors as part of a reorganization of its PayPal financial division to make it "more agile" with a simplified business structure.

PayPal powers online payments and money transfers, and has been moving into digital wallets.

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sennekuyl
not rated yet Jun 27, 2013
I know! A distributed electronic cryptic currency!

(I also swear that I think Bitcoin et al will probably fail to become mainstream due largely to confidence and partially to implementation. Though I like the general idea.)
Sanescience
3.7 / 5 (3) Jun 27, 2013
What a publicity stunt. Assuming delays of months to years for physical transportation currencies will start to resemble old world Earth shipping practices. Trading in compact high value materials. I'm guessing refined isotopes for fission/fusion or possibly manufactured materials of extreme complexity / difficulty to manufacture. And possibly best of all, information. Intellectual property rights will be very difficult to enforce. So industry secrets will become the most valuable currency of all.
alfie_null
5 / 5 (1) Jun 27, 2013
"From 'Star Trek' to 'Battlestar Galactica', they all have currency and they all gloss over the fact that it works,"
Of the Star Trek episodes I've seen, they kind-of made a point that they _don't_ use currency. A dystopia for the likes of PayPal.

Novel attributes of managing and exchanging currency across the much larger volume of interplanetary space will allow for that many more opportunities for players to introduce instability and make money off it. Hard enough just making it work here on Earth.

Of course if the participants don't have stuff each other value, not much point in exchanging currency. Not exactly the situation PayPal/Marcus is talking about, but the S.F. novel "Live Free or Die", by John Ringo, had the protagonist dealing with this problem in an entertaining way.
Gaby_64
5 / 5 (2) Jun 27, 2013
Dont they know that type 1 and above civilizations transcend the need for money.
Make me want to punch my screen to think we would bring our uncivilized and abhorrent ways into space.
indio007
1 / 5 (2) Jun 27, 2013
Pfft... like Paypal has any credibility.
Claudius
1 / 5 (2) Jun 27, 2013
I'm waiting for Amazon to go galactic. Then we can order extraterrestrial items using the new galactic currency :>
tatyana_kapkan
1 / 5 (1) Jun 27, 2013
Do you know that you can join the team of space explorers and discover another planet teaming with life? You can make a donation and claim perks like:

1. First Contact Alert – Be one of the first people on earth to be notified when SETI makes contact
2. Voyager Message Plaque – A copy of the ET greeting message sent on Voyager autographed by Carl Sagan collaborator Frank Drake
3. Guided Tour of Allen Telescope Array – Live the life of Jody Foster's character, hang with scientists and explore that first contact
4. Limited edition SETI swag – Fly a Flag of Earth to show "We are all Earthlings" or nab a special edition Galactic T-shirt or poster

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TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (1) Jun 27, 2013
Dont they know that type 1 and above civilizations transcend the need for money.
Make me want to punch my screen to think we would bring our uncivilized and abhorrent ways into space.
Sorry things will have relative value in space. Work will have relative value, in space. The abstract representation of value is a hallmark of intelligence. Maybe this is why you dont understand it.

Machine life will still need an accounting of the relative effort needed to extract, move, and process material and energy. They will still need an abstract value-holder to equate relative expenditures of time and effort needed to produce things, just as we do. But for them this value-holder need be nothing more than numbers.
Protoplasmix
1 / 5 (1) Jun 28, 2013
The most intelligent system for being truly economical is known currently as the 'Scientific Method'.
VendicarE
not rated yet Jun 30, 2013
The Ningy is already the basis of all interstellar trade.