PayPal has launched a new program called Galactic that looks to explore the future of intergalactic payments. Most notably, how will people on Mars pay for things? PayPal is looking into this inevitable dilemma and is looking to find solutions before the problem even starts. Is it a good thinking-ahead move? It sure seems like it.
PayPal is partnering up with a handful of scientific organizations and figures, including SETI Institute, the Space Tourism Society, and even iconic astronaut Buzz Aldrin. Along with these organizations and figures, PayPal plans to evaluate issues that surround the future of extra-planetary travel and the currency system that could come about.
Of course, this really isn't a huge surprise, especially since the founder of PayPal is none other than SpaceX founder Elon Musk, who is currently working on commercializing space travel, as well as Virgin Galactic. Both of these companies are answering the question "when?" and not "if?" as far as colonizing Mars and making commercial space travel possible.
PayPal already has a list of money-related questions that they're tackling, such as "What will our standard currency look like in a truly cash-free interplanetary society?", "How will the banking systems have to adapt?", and "How will risk and fraud management systems need to evolve?". There's definitely a lot of variables and factors that go into banking, so getting a head start is probably a good idea for PayPal.
However, by the time that space travel is commercialized and we make it to Mars, will PayPal even be relevant still at that point? Or will a newer, better digital payment service come along? We're already seeing these services sprout up, including Simple (a favorite of mine), but with PayPal's massive scale, it could be a while before we see a worthy competitor challenge the eBay-owned payment company.