PayPal Galactic Initiative to Tackle Payments in Space

By David Marcus
David Marcus
David Marcus
June 27, 2013 Updated: June 27, 2013

Almost 15 years ago, PayPal set out to be a global currency – to build the first money transfer and payment system fit to serve the entire world. Today we are there; PayPal is the boundary and currency agnostic platform, regularly used by 128 million people around the globe. We almost single-handedly created the online payment category and can truly say we have helped change the way the world uses money.

The time has now come for us to start planning for the future; a future where we aren’t just talking about global payments. Today, we are expanding our vision off earth into space.

What we once deemed to be science fiction has become a reality. Space travel is opening up for “the rest of us” thanks to Virgin Galactic, Space X and a host of other space tourism programs including the Space Hotel that hopes to be in orbit by 2016. The enabling infrastructure pieces are starting to come together, and as we start planning to inhabit other planets, the practical realities of life still need to be addressed.

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. This is why, today we are announcing our intention to make PayPal the leading resource to address the challenges that these new and exciting times present. We are the only company currently poised to deliver payments outside of our planet. We want to be not only the world’s most loved way to pay but also the preferred money transfer system off earth – in space and between space and earth.

Our PayPal Galactic initiative is launching on Thursday, live from the SETI Institute, supported by key organizations in the scientific community. This visionary program, spearheaded by PayPal and working with the SETI Institute, aims to bring together leaders in the space industry to work on the big questions around the commercialization of space.
These include:

§ 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?

To mark this occasion, I’m proud to introduce the initiative alongside space experts including Frank Drake, Chairman Emeritus and Margaret Race, senior research scientist at the SETI Institute; John Spencer, the Founder and President of the Space Tourism Society; and former astronaut, and second man on the moon, Buzz Aldrin.

You can watch the announcement live at 9am PDT Thursday at Video of the announcement will be available after the event at the same location.

Already the need for a payment system off earth exists. Astronauts inhabiting space stations today still need to pay for life’s necessities—from their bills back on Earth to their entertainment, like music and e-books, while in space.

The functionality is already in place for us to facilitate transactions across the globe – internet connectivity, a bank account, and an e-mail address or mobile phone number are all you need to use PayPal. Our robust and proven systems that help us to transact safely and securely in 25 currencies across multiple banking systems, are built to be scalable – out into the solar system and beyond.

Creating a secure and functional commerce system that can operate in space at scale will not be easy, but with the support of the scientific community, other technology companies and the public at large, we hope to find the solutions to address these challenges. This is just the beginning. Specific details still need to be addressed, and we look forward to keeping you updated with our progress and to the day when we are truly able to make space a commercial reality.

David Marcus
PayPal president

David Marcus