Financial News

  • 1 May 2014, 7:17

University To Give Every Student Free Bitcoin

Every student at a US university is to be given $100 (59) in bitcoin after a Wall Street financier donated $500,000 (297,000).

Students at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) will receive the virtual currency when they return to campus this autumn, as part of a study to see whether a small-scale bitcoin ecosystem can be created.

They will be free to spend their bitcoin in any way they please, but it is hoped they will use it to trade and barter with each other.

Given bitcoin's soaring price, $100 will give each student just a fifth of a bitcoin at the current exchange rate.

Dan Elitzer, who founded the university's bitcoin club, wrote on the website: "We want to issue a challenge to some of the brightest technical minds of a generation: 'When you step onto campus this fall, all of your classmates are going to have access to bitcoin; what are YOU going to build to give them interesting ways to use it?'"

Bitcoin is a virtual currency - also known as a cryptocurrency - which was introduced five years ago.

It can be mined using advanced computer processors, and exchanged between people at often fluctuating rates.

It is still unclear whether it is a passing fad, or a currency of the future.

Computer science sophomore Jeremy Rubin, who helped raise the cash, believes it is the latter.

He said: "Giving students access to crypto-currencies is analogous to providing them with internet access at the dawn of the internet era."

Details of how to distribute the currency to the university's 4,528 undergraduates are still being ironed out.

Once distributed, however, MIT will have the biggest concentration of people with access to the crypto-currency.

Most of the cash was donated by MIT graduate Alexander Morcos, who works in high-frequency trading in New York.

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