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October 27, 2007

Space money

photo of space money

We earthlings have come up with an endless variety of means of monetary exchange. At various times we've used woodpecker scalps, blocks of salt, lumps of metallic elements, wheels of grain, tulip bulbs, intricately printed pieces of paper, magnetically encoded plastic cards, and god knows what all as ways to transfer wealth from person to person. (I happen to have a nice little reserve of Linden dollars at the moment).

But what about when tourists... and therefore commerce... reaches outer space? What will we use for money in orbit, on the Moon, on Mars, and beyond?

Travelex, a UK based company that specializes in currency exchange, has come up with a modest proposal... the QUID (short for Quasi Universal Intergalactic Denomination). It's a series of coin-like tokens molded from polytetrafluoroethylene (otherwise known as PTFE or Teflon). They are resistant to corrosion, can handle extremes of temperature, have no sharp edges (in case you get smacked with one in zero-G), and are easy to handle while wearing heavy space gloves.

Each GUID has a unique bar-code serial number, but no magnetic or RFID device, since those could be fried by the harsh radiation of space.

Space currency will almost certainly not end up looking like GUIDs (since the future almost never ends up looking like we think it will) but it's cool to see a company make a wild-ass guess.

In case you're wondering, Travelex is going to start actually making GUIDs available at their exchange kiosks (though they haven't set a roll-out date yet). They've set the current exchange rate at about US $12.50 to 1 GUID.

Here's the Travelex press release about the whole thing.

Posted by Chris Spurgeon at October 27, 2007 09:03 AM