Payments in a Galaxy far far away? Yes, says Paypal

I got an opportunity to listen to one of my all time favorite speaker Esther Dyson in Start up Grind event in New York a month back. She was fascinating as usual but one thing which caught my attention is that from a Health and Tech investor she has got so much into Space tech and space related stuff that she even learned how to fly a spaceship in Russia. Dyson is a founding member of Space Angels Network and has invested in XCOR.

Okay, I need to get back to the topic of Spatial Payments. $200,000 is all it will take (ahem!) to go for a tour to the space. From Stephen Hawking to Leonardo Di Caprio many celebrities have bought tickets for a spot on the Virgin Galactic space flight set to take off in 2014. As space travel becomes a reality and prices reduce over time, PayPal has taken the first step to become the global leader in Outer Space Payments by introducing its new initiative, the PayPal Galactic. Let the force be with you Pal.

Launched on 27th June 2013 at SETI Institute, PayPal Galactic is a platform that aims to bring together the leaders in the scientific community to study, prepare and pave the way to the future of space payments. This initiative brings PayPal together with SETI Institute, Space Tourism Society and the 2nd man on the moon Buzz Aldrin. They seek to address topics such as adaption of banking systems, risk and fraud management, regulations and customer support with regards to space transactions.

According to PayPal Astronauts living on space stations have to pay for their necessities such as music, e books and entertainment and so a need for an extra planetary payments system is already there. None of the existing payment systems we use on earth like cash, debit and credit cards could be used in space. Anything with sharp edges, low denominations like coins, would be a risk to astronauts while the chip and magnetic stripes used in our cards would be damaged by cosmic radiation, says George Fraser, Professor at University of Leicester.

With Virgin Galactic’s aim to launch its first commercial space flight by 2014, Orbital technologies plans to have its space hotel ready by 2016 and Dutch company Mars One looking to put a colony on mars by 2023, PayPal understood that it was only a matter of time before a commercial payment system would need to be developed for outer space. We may not answer these questions today or even this year, but one thing is clear, we won't be using cash in space,' says PayPal President David 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.'

LTP View: If this innovation comes through, PayPal will again stamp its authority on being the Big Daddy of the Payments World. Not only thinking big this time but thinking out of the box. For this initiative to come through PayPal may have to draw extensive support and cooperation from government agencies, technologists, banks, etc. This initiative would also require expertise from leaders in the space industry to address issues like commercialization of space, cashless society, regulations and adaption of banks to make it work. The good part is that it's an early start.