UoC becomes the first public university in the world to accept Bitcoin for payment of fees

22 ianuarie 2014

The University of Cumbria has announced it will accept Bitcoin for the payment of fees. The move comes with the launch of courses that examine the role of complementary currencies in economic and social systems. The university believes it is the first public university in the world to accept Bitcoin as payment for course fees. A private university in Cyprus recently announced it will accept Bitcoin for fees.

Bitcoin is an online currency and payment system that already enables the international transmission of funds per day at an amount greater than Western Union. Thousands of merchants now accept Bitcoin worldwide. The university uses the system Bitpay to process any payments.
Bitpay is a US-based company that enables thousands of merchants to accept Bitcoin. Last year it secured investment from the founders of Paypal.

profesor Jem BendelThe acceptance of Bitcoin will initially be limited to the two programmes that address complementary currencies. Both courses are run by the new Institute for Leadership and Sustainability (IFLAS).

The founder and director of IFLAS, Professor Jem Bendell (pictured), explains the move. “We believe in learning by doing, and so to help inform our courses on complementary currencies, we are trialling the acceptance of them. The internal discussions about currency and payment innovation and the practical implications for different departments have been insightful.”

The reason IFLAS has launched a course on these topics is due to the growing practice of currency innovation and the potential it presents for significant societal change. Professor Bendell continues: “Some support Bitcoin due to its speed and cost, others due the new era of financial freedom it could enable. Others are concerned about it and how it will affect economies and society. Others think that what comes next will be even more important. We think it is essential to become better informed, and analyse it from many different perspectives.”

The university facilitates students to use one of the transaction services such as Bitpay to pay their fees using their Bitcoin. This facility is on a trial basis and will be assessed on an ongoing basis and also at the end of 2014.

”We advise against students purchasing Bitcoin in order to pay their fees. They should only use this facility if they already have Bitcoin, or can receive Bitcoin donations in order to pay their fees. We make this clear due to the risk of currency volatility. The university does not risk currency volatility as we use transaction services that convert the Bitcoin into GBP at the time of payment.”, according to the press release.

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