MIT conducts world's largest Bitcoin experiment
Published 30/04/2014 | 14:37
A pot of $500,000 will be used to hand out free Bitcoins to every undergraduate at MIT later this year, in the hope of spurring research, innovation and entrepreneurialism around digital currencies among students
Two students at the USA’s prestigious engineering and technology university MIT have raised $500,000 to conduct an experiment that will see every undergraduate handed $100 of the digital currency Bitcoin later this year.
Jeremy Rubin, who is studying electrical engineering and computer science, and Dan Elitzer, founder and President of the MIT Bitcoin Club and a first-year in the MBA program at MIT Sloan, raised the money so that it could be used in a test of how students use the Bitcoin they receive, as well as to spur academic and entrepreneurial activity around the crypto-currency.
The bulk of funding for the MIT Bitcoin Project is being provided by MIT alumni with additional support from the Bitcoin community. The total of over $500,000 already pledged will cover the distribution of Bitcoin to all 4,528 undergraduates, as well as infrastructure and informational activities related to the initiative. Once the project is underway MIT will be the first place where widespread access to Bitcoin can be assumed, hopefully leading to a great deal of research, innovation and entrepreneurialism around the future of digital currencies.
Rubin said: “Giving students access to cryptocurrencies is analogous to providing them with internet access at the dawn of the internet era.”
The organisers admit they do not know how students will decide to use their Bitcoin. However, they plan to use the time between now and when the Bitcoin is distributed to build up the Bitcoin ecosystem at MIT. This will include working with members of the MIT Bitcoin Club to educate merchants around campus and help them get set up to accept Bitcoin payments.
Elitzer said: “We decided to announce this project now to give students lead time. 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?’”