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.

Navigating the World of Bitcoin and Digital Currencies

bitcoins pile firoz patelTo some, it may seem like Bitcoin is a currency cloaked in mystery. Analysts everywhere can’t stop talking about Bitcoin and its meteoric rise. Though fraught with early glitches, Bitcoin is considered to be a success by most. As the first digital currency, bought, sold and traded throughout the world, it’s no surprise that Bitcoin is a major point of discussion whenever one considers the current landscape of cryptocurrency. Payza showed a vote of confidence in the potential for this new currency when we announced a new feature that allowed users to withdraw funds from their Payza accounts and deposit right into their Bitcoin wallet.

 

But many ask today, what the future holds for this brave new currency. And many want to know of any risks that may accompany buying into this digital gold rush.

 

For the uninitiated, Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency free from countries or borders. A decentralized monetary system that retains its value no matter where in the world it’s used. Designed by programmers with incredible foresight and code savvy, this new internet currency is the hotly discussed center of current economic debates. Most recently, Bitcoin made headlines for the disagreement among Bitcoin developers in terms of deciding how the core software should change. There are two vocal camps. The heart of the disagreement has to do with establishing how to manage Bitcoin’s block size.

 

Known only as Satoshi Nakamoto (an alias), the creator of Bitcoin vanished by the end of 2010, leaving a massive power vacuum in his wake. Stepping into the void were very real programmers, each acting as a figurehead for the currency and its growth. Ironically, this has proven to be a problem for those who came to Bitcoin for its lack of “human involvement.” For many, Bitcoin represents a massive investment in an emerging currency, and their potential loss of would be catastrophic. Hard currency relies on dozens of factors to dictate its worth, but Bitcoin being entirely virtual means that the strength of its value lies in the hands of these few programmers.

Though the power to manipulate the value of the currency is ever-present, Bitcoin programmers limit themselves to action when only absolutely necessary. As analysts have stated, Bitcoin cannot afford to alter its programming too much at this point. Doing so could fracture the entire ecosystem, and bring what has been so carefully constructed crashing down. With precision and the utmost care, Bitcoin’s masters have adhered to the strictest of codes to keep their cryptocurrency as financially stable as possible.

Though not as widely popularized as Bitcoin, smaller companies have been testing their own forms of cryptocurrency dubbed Altcoins. Though these attempts to cash in on the success of Bitcoin have never measured up, the reality of cryptocurrencies are very real. While still in its infancy, Bitcoin has shown promise in its widespread acceptance with the digital community. Though still in need of the occasional helping hand, we may live to see the day where an autonomous cryptocurrency becomes equally accepted as paper money. A bold experiment now worth over $4 billion, Bitcoin is putting the money where its mouth is.