Bitcoin At University…Is It A Good Fit?

Firoz PatelIn May of this year, Simon Fraser University became the first Canadian post-secondary institution to install automated Bitcoin vending machines. SFU installed these AVMs at bookstores on each of the school’s three campuses.

For some, the idea that you can use Bitcoin to buy your Psych 101 textbook is merely a fun novelty. But the reason behind SFU’s decision to invest in these AVMs is rather telling.

By purchasing these AVMs, it’s likely that SFU is stating their belief in the current and growing use of this cryptocurrency. Instead of fearing the decentralized, completely digital currency, this university is willing to participate with and provide access to the currency.

The university’s Executive Director of Ancillary Services, Mark McLaughlin, claims that “The plan is to eventually roll it out to our dining hall.”

He goes on to state that the school didn’t incorporate AVMs into its landscape because of financial incentives. However, there were two purported goals in utilizing this new currency at bookstores at each of the three campuses.

While some may argue that there are certainly financial perks that the school’s book sellers receive owing to accepting this type of currency (ie. no transaction fees for the retailer), the school maintains that the objectives were a bit more heady.

First of all, incorporating Bitcoin into the bookstores’ forms of accepted currencies, it started a dialogue on campus about disruptive technologies. Additionally, students and staff members alike had the opportunity to learn about Bitcoin.

Although the school does not disclose the number of Bitcoin transactions that have come through these AVMs, they do remain optimistic about the future of the currency at the school, and pleased with the number of people currently taking advantage of the fact that it is being treated as an alternative to other payment methods at the school’s bookstores.

While only time will tell where and when this trend will catch on, Simon Fraser University will certainly offer an interesting testing ground for how young people choose to interact with this currency when it is presented as a payment option IRL.

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