There's a lot of buzz these days about space tourism—even space colonization someday. It's coming. In many ways, it's already here. Wealthy adventurers have paid millions to orbit Planet Earth, and forward-thinking firms are designing hotels for the final frontier.
Someday, regular Joe Schmos will be vacationing on the moon, buying astroid souvenirs, staying at the swanky Milky Way Hotel.
Rest assured when that day comes, Paypal will be ready. In a wildly optimistic move (or publicity stunt, depending on how cynical you are), the company has announced Paypal Galactic, a forthcoming service for extraterrestrial e-commerce.
It's not as crazy as it sounds. If and when space travel does blow up—PayPal President David Marcus predicts "in a decade or so"— someone will have to facilitate the inevitable subsequent cosmic-commercialization. And, as Marcus put it, “We want to make sure that PayPal is the preferred way to pay from space and in space."
So far, they are leading the market. OK they are the market—maybe because PayPal jumped the gun on this by nearly a decade. Still the company, now owned by eBay, is pulling out all the stops. It's partnering with the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute, the Space Tourism Society, and even got Buzz Aldrin to make a statement for the announcement.
The rich and famous have their sights set on space. Visiting Mars is the life dream of Elon Musk, who, fittingly, was a cofounder of PayPal before founding SpaceX. Silicon Valley stars like Larry Page, Sergey Brin and Jeff Bezos are throwing money behind the quest to go to the final frontier, while Hollywood stars like Brad Pitt, Justin Bieber, and Ashton Kutcher are lining up to take the voyage. First come the celebs, then the commerce.
It will interesting to see how this plays out. A virtual currency? Cosmic coins? Simply an interplanetary infrastructure for charging credit cards? PayPal itself doesn't have the answers, but you have to give them credit for asking the questions.
“The one thing that’s very clear is that you’re not going to be using cash in space," a spokesperson told Mashable. "There’s not going to be security shuttles picking up notes and change.”
For more insight into what on earth (or, not on Earth, as it were) PayPal is thinking, check out the announcement video:
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