Before the end of the spring semester, the MIT Bitcoin Club announced it would be gifting every undergraduate with $100 worth of the cryptocurrency this fall. In the interim, however, the group didn’t make students wait for a reward. Rather, the Club awarded $15,000 in cash prizes to MIT-based developers who found the best use for bitcoin over the summer.
The MIT BitComp served as a summer-long competition, and was designed to have students develop innovative bitcoin-related apps. The contest was broken up into three rounds, the first of which 82 undergraduates, 20 graduate students, 14 alumni and one sole high school student participated in.
Team Ethos picked up prizes in the first and second rounds of the competition, according to CoinDesk, and eventually went on to receive the first-place, grand prize of $5,000. Developed by MIT Media Lab graduate students Guy Zyskind and Amir Lazarovich, as well as bitcoin entrepreneur Oz Nathan, Ethos offers a “decentralized blockchain.” Or rather, a platform to help users control and maintain their personal data online.
As the founders noted in a statement, bitcoin goes beyond being just a payment system. The trio explained:
We believe bitcoin as a currency will quickly become mainstream in the coming years. That said, the real value behind bitcoin is its being a decentralized and trustless complex system. In many ways, bitcoin as an idea is an optimization to democracy using technology. As such, the future of bitcoin definitely holds far more interesting applications than the currency itself.
Five other projects received $1,500 awards courtesy of the MIT BitComp, according to CoinDesk, including: Rex Mercury, “a bitcoin-to-SMS gateway service designed to facilitate cross-border payments”; BitStation, “a wallet designed specifically for MIT students”; Potlucky, “an app that can be used to make simple, off-block chain transactions”; and CoinJoin, “a bitcoin transaction anonymizer.”
The Bitcoin Club has been spearheaded by MIT undergraduate Jeremy Rubin and Dan Elitzer, an MBA candidate at the Sloan School of Management. The two have raised more than $500,000 to provide every undergraduate at their tech-savvy school with bitcoin this fall.
“Giving students access to cryptocurrencies is analogous to providing them with Internet access at the dawn of the Internet era,” explained Rubin when the MIT Bitcoin Project launched earlier this year.
With classes starting this week, and students now educated, it’s only a matter of time until the entire campus has widespread access to bitcoin.
Image via Flickr User Antana, (CC BY-SA 2.0)