MIT students to receive $100 in Bitcoin

Bitcoin's openness is a great tech challenge to MIT students to build applications that use Bitcoin.

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The MIT Bitcoin Club is handing out $100 in the cryptocurrenty to MIT undergrads next September. The club’s co-founder Jeremy Rubin gave a pretty convincing reason for the giveaway:

"Giving students access to cryptocurrencies is analogous to providing them with internet access at the dawn of the internet era."

Come next September, MIT will become an interesting hands-on cryptocurrency laboratory because the entire community of 4,528 new and returning undergraduate students will all have at least a small amount of the cryptocurrency. And, from an academic and technology perspective, Bitcoin is very interesting because it is an open system that can be understood from end to end.

The club’s founders, Rubin, a sophomore, and Dan Elitzer, a first-year MBA student at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, don’t have a fixed notion of how their fellow students will use Bitcoin.

“We decided to announce this project now to give students lead time,” Elitzer says. “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?’”

This early announcement will also let the MIT Bitcoin Club work to educate merchants around campus and help them get set up to accept Bitcoin payments.

Supporting the MIT Bitcoin Club is a long list of MIT faculty, including Thomas Hardjono, Executive Director of the MIT Kerberos & Internet Trust Consortium, and members of the Bitcoin community including Gavin Andresen, Chief Scientist and Board Member of the Bitcoin Foundation.

Rubin and Elitzer raised $500,000 from MIT alumni and the Bitcoin community to make this possible. As founders of the MIT Bitcoin club, they believe Bitcoin has a great future. But less ardent believers in Bitcoin would agree that students at top technological universities should have first-hand experience with Bitcoin. Cryptocurrency is an emerging branch of technology integrating the mathematical science of cryptography, peer-to-peer networks, and large scale redundant and resilient network design.

Mt. Glox aside, along with other areas of skepticism, crytocurrency is an influence on computing technology, economics, and banking. Today, $6 billion dollars of Bitcoin exist and are traded every day without a central bank, paper currency, or physical security. The ease of transferring bitcoin compared to government-minted currencies alone has given rise of much interest for using it in legitimate transactions. It’s not clear whether Bitcoin will become a widely adopted currency; but the technology will influence both the concept of digital money and other yet-to-be-defined classes of digital assets.

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