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PayPal latest initiative is out of this world


MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — When one thinks of space exploration and space travel, Paypal is hardly the first thing that comes to mind. But the eBay company is spearheading an initiative that is paving the way for space commerce.

With the help of the SETI Institute and the Space Tourism Society, PayPal Galactic aims to make universal space payments a reality. Paypal president David Marcus was joined by astronaut and author Buzz Aldrin to announce the initiative’s launch.

“As space tourism programs are opening space travel 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,” said Marcus. “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.”

“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,” added Aldrin. “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.”

The e-commerce company says that there is already a need for a galactic payment system, and points out that astronauts who live in space stations need to pay for life’s necessities — from their bills back on Earth to items, such as music and e-books, while they are in space.

And it isn’t just about the essentials astronauts in space require, according to founder and president of the Space Tourism Society, who predicts that within 5 to 10 years, the earliest types of “space hotels” and orbital and lunar commerce will be operational and in need of a payment system.

“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, the Bernard M. Oliver chair for 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.”

PayPal Galactic’s takeoff has coincided with PayPal’s 15th anniversary. Founded in 1998, the eBay company has since grown its online payments service to more than 128 million active accounts in 193 markets.

The SETI Institute is a leading private research organization dedicated to expanding human knowledge of the universe and the search for life, including intelligent life, beyond our world. The nonprofit institute comprises three centers: the Center for SETI Research, the Carl Sagan Center for the Study of Life in the Universe and the Center for Education and Public Outreach. Founded in November 1984, the SETI Institute employs more than 150 scientists, educators and support staff who share the mission of seeking out evidence of life in the universe, as well as the passion to ensure humanity’s understanding of its origin.

Click here to view video of the press conference.

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