Two MIT students have successfully raised more than half a million dollars in order to give all 4,528 undergraduate students on campus $100 worth of the cryptocurrency to use as they see fit.
Rather than being another Bitcoin publicity stunt, the pair say that the intention is to establish a genuine ecosystem for digital currencies at the university and to help MIT maintain its long heritage at the cutting edge of technology.
“Giving students access to cryptocurrencies is analogous to providing them with Internet access at the dawn of the internet era,” Jeremy Rubin, one half of the duo behind the project, said. “When the distribution happens this fall, it will make the MIT campus the first place in the world where it will be possible to assume widespread access to Bitcoin.”
The cash has been raised from around 25 donors, according to MIT publication ‘The Tech’, although half of that figure will reportedly come from Alexander Morcos, co-founder of Hudson River Trading.
The aim of the project is ultimately to study how the Bitcoins are used by students, as well as to spur activity in the field within the university.
While the Bitcoins are set to be distributed in the fall, Dan Elitzer, the other half of the pair behind the project, told TNW that there will be no limitations on what students can do with them.
“Part of the beauty of Bitcoin is that it is an open platform, like the Internet. Even if we wanted to put restrictions on how students use their Bitcoin, it would be more of a request than something we could enforce. We expect MIT students will embrace this opportunity to find interesting and innovative uses for Bitcoin, as they have time after time with other emerging technologies,” Elitzer said.
In order to raise awareness ahead of time, and to give students a chance to get the ideas flowing, the project is being publicized now and will be the focus of the MIT Bitcoin Expo on May 3.
“We decided to announce this project now to give students lead time,” Elitzer said. “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?’”
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