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Bitcoin’s Rising Role in Higher Education


Education Background

The prominence of Bitcoin at higher education institutions suggests that college and university students are engaged and interested in cryptocurrency.  This post is largely in response to the claim that Bitcoin is unpopular with students, issued in article by and the Boston Globe.  In these articles, authors use an MIT study to support the theory that Bitcoin is not popular with students.  The study was conducted by two MIT students who raised $500,000 for research.  Using the funding, they issued $100 in Bitcoin to every undergraduate student on campus.  Over the course of the two-year study, shutterstock_196143734they monitored usage rates and foudn that 3/5 students stopped using Bitcoin and cashed in for $100 USD.  News outlets have taken this as an indicator that Bitcoin is unpopular with students in this demographic.  However, upon scrutiny, these findings are not robust.

To offer a personal opinion, an adoption rate of 40% for a currency that could revolutionize finance seems significant.  Ignoring opinions, college student expenses are high.  The opportunity cost of holding onto $100 in cryptocurrency for academic purposes deserves recognition.  These two considerations warrant a high level of skepticism in considering the headline conclusions from news sources.

Signals of Growth

Even if the study demonstrated low adoption rates of college students, Bitcoin’s presence in higher education has increased in tangible steps.  Elite educational institutions, such as Stanford and NYU, now offer Bitcoin development and litigation classes.  Princeton released its first draft of a Bitcoin textbook earlier this year.  The visible growth of Bitcoin is due to a growing demand from students.

An Important Demographic

The debate surrounding Bitcoin’s popularity begs the question: why should investors care?  As a succinct answer, college students today can help predict the future of the currency.  As classes develop to clarify the legal status of Bitcoin, or promote the development of Bitcoin and blockchain apps, usage will become increasingly widespread.  Positive usage rates positively impact Bitcoin value.

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