Paypal has dominated the online world of credit card and bank payments for as long as we can remember. They have recently teamed up with the Space Tourism Industry and the SETI Institute to cater for future Solar System commerce.
While it sounds like something out of a science fiction movie Paypal want to be ahead of the curve when people start living on Mars.
Online banking has improved dramatically in recent years. Send someone a bank transfer now in the United Kingdom and they are likely to receive it within a couple of hours, sometimes within 10 minutes. This is a long call from waiting almost a week a decade ago. Need to check your bank account in real time? You can do it easily now within seconds. Manage what you have going out and coming in with a couple of clicks in your internet browser.
Currently we all have an IP address, but when sending a transmission to another planet, it needs to be different. The Galileo orbiter was launched in 1989 and it reached Jupiter in 1995. Galileo’s high gain 4.8m antenna didn’t open, but it was designed to enable a 134 kbs data link from Jupiter to Earth with around 20 watts of RF power. Today’s high compression technology would mean that this should be able to transmit at around 2MB/s. Not bad for an individual user, but for an entire planet? No so much.
Gizmag writer Brian Dodson adds “This requires an Earth antenna costing somewhere between US$500 million to $1 billion and tens of millions to operate each year.
Fortunately, in the early days most of this infrastructural data will be sent from Earth to the remainder of the network, as Earth stations can use a lot of power to achieve a huge data rate.
Whatever form PayPal Galactic takes, the unavoidable time gaps between a transaction on one planet and the updating of the data files on another will offer opportunities for gaming (ok, defrauding) the system. This sort of dishonesty can be ameliorated by access protocols, so it will be interesting to see if PayPal Galactic comes up with methods as simple and transparent as they use here on Earth.”
Paypal President David Marcus said “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 into the Internet, onto phones and across terrestrial borders. We look forward to pushing payments from our world to the next, and beyond.”
You can read more on this over here at the Paypal Galactic website.