Most college students are greeted back to campus with t-shirts or free pizza. At MIT this fall, the 4,528 undergraduate students will also be greeted with $100 worth of bitcoin.
Two MIT students have raised more than half a million dollars from MIT alumni and the bitcoin community to introduce the cryptocurrency to everyone on campus. As of 11:10 a.m PT, the price of a bitcoin was around $443 so students would receive about a quarter of a bitcoin.
The project to build up a campus bitcoin scene is being led by Jeremy Rubin, a computer science sophomore, and by Dan Elitzer, President of the MIT Bitcoin Club and a first-year in the MBA program at MIT Sloan.
“Giving students access to cryptocurrencies is analogous to providing them with internet access at the dawn of the internet era,” said Rubin in a press release. “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.”
Bitcoin has always had a major problem getting the currency into the hands of everyday consumers and then giving them opportunities to use it outside of the small, but growing, number of merchants that accept it. Growing its use in an environment like a university — where students are already used to using virtual currency like mealpoints or campus cash — may prove to be a good incubator for ideas on how to use the cryptocurrency on a larger scale.
While the pair admitted that they don’t know how the students will use the bitcoin, they are going to use the extra funds and time between now and then to help set up local merchants to accept bitcoin and establish the infrastructure for it. From there, it’s up to the students to decide the best way to use the crpytocurrency.