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MIT Project Giving Every Student $100 - in Bitcoin

Students at MIT have raised enough money to hand out $100 in bitcoin to every undergrad at the university. What for? They're not sure.
Image: Mock Bitcoins
Mock BitcoinsPAWEL KOPCZYNSKI / Reuters file

Two students at MIT have raised enough money to hand out $100 in bitcoin to every undergrad at the university — though they admit they don't know what will happen next.

The MIT Bitcoin Project is aimed at creating awareness and interest in bitcoin, the original online-only cryptocurrency and something consumers and regulators alike struggle to comprehend.

Jeremy Rubin, a sophomore, and Dan Elitzer, a graduate student, managed to pull in over $500,000 in pledges after contacting alumni and the bitcoin community. The plan is to distribute it in the fall among the institution's more than 4,500 undergrads, $100 apiece — about a quarter of a bitcoin at the current exchange rate.

Mock BitcoinsPAWEL KOPCZYNSKI / Reuters file

What the students do with it is up to them. Sell it to a friend for textbook money, exchange it for goods on a shadowy bitcoin market online, or perhaps build an app that makes use of the currency's unique talents.

"We want to issue a challenge to some of the brightest technical minds of a generation," said Elitzer in a press release announcing the project. "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?"

Whether the project will jump-start interest in bitcoin or just give a class of students a bit of pocket cash is hard to say; we'll find out this fall when the giveaway takes effect.