When MIT's 4,500 undergraduates return to campus this fall, each of them will receive $100 worth of bitcoin. Why? Undergraduate student Jeremy Rubin, 19, and MBA student Daniel Elitzer want to create a bitcoin ecosystem at the school, in an effort to make the currency more commonplace, the Guardian reports. "We want to issue a challenge to some of the brightest technical minds of a generation: 'When you step on to 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?'" Elitzer explains in the official announcement. Adds Rubin, "Giving students access to cryptocurrencies is analogous to providing them with Internet access at the dawn of the Internet era."
The idea behind this and similar projects: The more people who own and use bitcoin, the more likely the currency is to survive—plus, an infrastructure will theoretically be built, with more businesses figuring out ways to accept bitcoins as payment and students developing bitcoin-related applications."Getting everyone at MIT to start playing with bitcoin … will prompt the MIT community to begin thinking seriously about how we can live in an all-digital future," a faculty supporter of the project tells MIT's The Tech. And, as the Boston Globe points out, MIT professors and researchers will be able to study how the currency is used. Rubin and Elitzer raised more than $500,000 to fund the giveaway, half of it coming from an MIT alum who now works in high-frequency trading on Wall Street. (Some things bitcoin can currently be used to buy? A ticket to space, fancy real estate, tuition at one university, and stuff on Overstock.com.)