Daniel Elitzer, a first year MIT Sloan School of Business student and the president of MIT’s Bitcoin Club, and MIT undergraduate Jeremy Rubin, are leading an effort called the MIT Bitcoin Project to put $100 worth of bitcoin in the hands of all of MIT’s undergraduate students.
The money for the project, $500,000 to cover all 4,528 undergrads, comes from a group of 25 donors. However, half of the money is being donated by MIT alum Alexander Morcos, the founder of Hudson River Trading in New York.
As far as the response from the university, Rubin and Elitzer said that a lot of different departments have been interested in the project, including the MIT Media Lab.
“We have the funds committed, and the people in the administration we’ve spoken to have been supportive,” said Elitzer. “It’s really exciting that we have so many different people from different disciplines involved in the project. That really speaks to the strength of MIT.”
The project is distributing the crypto-currency to build up a vibrant bitcoin ecosystem at the prestigious research university. Rubin and Elitzer told me distributing bitcoin will push undergraduates to innovate new products, services, and uses for the currency, while working to educate merchants in and around Cambridge and trying to get some of them accepting bitcoin payments. As Rubin said, that might lead to “people actually wanting to buy more bitcoin.”
On Saturday, Elitzer, Rubin, and the MIT Bitcoin Club are hosting the MIT Bitcoin Expo which will feature a keynote from Gavin Andresen, chief scientist and board member of the Bitcoin Foundation. Elitzer said that he hopes the conference is a first step to give people the knowledge that they need to work with bitcoin.