How to Pay for That Latte on the Moon? PayPal Has a Plan

In Star Trek lore, money doesn’t exist in the 24th century. But sometime in the 21st century, when we (hopefully) can go to a Bigelow orbiting space hotel or spend a weekend at a colony on the Moon, how are we going to pay for it? Global e-commerce company PayPal has a plan. They’ve teamed up with SETI and other space folks to launch PayPal Galactic, an initiative that PayPal says will address the issues to help make universal space payments a reality.

While this doesn’t seem to be an immediate need, PayPal wants to be ready … I presume. But as of this writing, the PayPal Galactic website doesn’t seem to be up and running yet.

The launch of PayPal Galactic is in conjunction with PayPal’s 15th anniversary, as well as a new crowdfunding campaign for SETI, called Curiosity Movement.

“PayPal and the SETI Institute are well-matched to work on PayPal Galactic because together we can create a recipe for innovation,” said Jill Tarter, from the SETI Institute. “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.”

Apollo 11’s Buzz Aldrin even was part of a webcast to launch PayPal Galactic.

“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,” said astronaut and author Buzz Aldrin, who is on-board with PayPal’s plans. “Whether it’s paying a bill, or 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.”

PayPal’s President David Marcus (no, not THAT David Marcus from Star Trek) says that as space travel opens 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,” he said in a press release. “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 onto the Internet, onto mobile phones and across terrestrial borders. We now look forward to pushing payments from our world to the next, and beyond.”

These are the questions PayPal hopes to answer:

• What will our standard currency look like in a truly cash-free interplanetary society?
• How will the banking systems have to adapt?
• How will risk and fraud management systems need to evolve?
• What regulations will we have to conform with?
• How will our customer support need to develop?

PayPal says this system could even help astronauts on the International Space Station be able to pay their bills back on Earth or be able to pay for e-books or online music.

But check out SETI’s Curiosity Movement, which hopes to “unite with curious thinkers across the globe in helping to expand our research and continue the search for answers on Earth and beyond.”

9 Replies to “How to Pay for That Latte on the Moon? PayPal Has a Plan”

  1. Aside from meeting up with an extraterrestrial civilization, I feel that an agreement to restructure our economic systems to include real human values is key for our continued evolution. We have on several occasions come within seconds of ‘pulling the trigger’, resulting in the total annihilation of all life on Earth, all for the sake of political and economic dominance. As it is, we’ve already done almost irreparable damage to our fragile planet chasing after imagined misanthropic wealth.

    I believe that every human is just as valuable and important as any other and our economies should be based on that fact. I suggest we all of us think long and hard about how to go about doing that! So… I like this story! (My two cents – LOL!)

  2. I would think that space tourism would work best as an all-inclusive deal. And as far as colonists eking out a life on Mars or the Moon, I can’t imagine any successful colony being run as anything but a command economy with strict rationing for the foreseeable future. Indeed, its hard to see any colony becoming self-sufficient, much less profitable enough to afford luxuries. Creature comforts and leisure will be limited to those deemed necessary for psychological health and distributed on the basis of need. There will not be a possibility for luxury items or the accumulation of wealth for quite some time — if ever.

    1. Yeah but it sparks some fun discussion, and SETI gets a bit of PR notice too, which can only be a good thing. I’m sure some will mistake it for a serious proposal and roll their eyes (who wouldn’t) but never mind.

      I’m not really sure how the “interplenatary-ness” of a society would pose difficult problems for finance, though. The only issue is distance, and we already had a very complex finance system that worked well enough at a time when the fastest method of communication was a letter.

  3. No money in the local system perhaps, but for trade with the Ferengi Aliance, among others, Gold-Pressed Latinum was the medium of choice.

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  4. What you must understand is that ‘Money’ is not wealth in it’s self . It is only a certificate for the transfer of wealth.

    All wealth on this planet is fundamentally mineral wealth.

    Value is added with vitality, expertise, and ingenuity

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