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Bitcoin market aimed at college students

Op-ed - Bitcoin market aimed at college students

Coinbase, a San Francisco company created to act as a wallet and platform in which merchants and customers can “transact” with bitcoin, is now offering the digital currency to students.

CyptoCoins News reports that any student that signs up for Coinbase will receive $10 worth of bitcoin. Students must verify enrollment by signing up with an email domain ending in “edu.”

Fred Ehrsam, who founded Coinbase in 2012, used Twitter to announce the limited time offer, which according to Ehrsam’s social media account, is currently only “enabled for a small handful of .edus at the moment.”

He has not yet revealed which schools will be participating, but did respond to a Twitter user who attempted without success to sign up with a University of California Berkeley account.

Ehrsam replied, “It’s because so many people have signed up from Berkeley today (seriously).”

@choi_kl@Berkeley it’s because so many people have signed up from Berkeley today (seriously)

— Fred Ehrsam (@FEhrsam) May 8, 2014

Students at other colleges including Notre Dame and UCLA have reported success in signing up.

College investors

Giving away free bitcoin to college students in order to encourage investment is clever, but not new. Earlier this month, more than 4,000 MIT students enrolled in the 2014 fall semester will receive $100 worth of bitcoin.

The brains behind the program, Jeremy Rubin and Dan Elitzer, were able to launch the program after receiving nearly half a million dollars in donations from MIT alumni and the bitcoin community.

“Giving students access to cryptocurrencies is analogous to providing them with internet access at the dawn of the internet era,” said Rubin.

While many are excited about the give away, some are curious about what will happen if they try signing up with a school that’s not yet listed.

Others say the promotion could be taken advantage of by non-students creating an email account with the domain “edu,” which some experts say is relatively easy to do. Drew Cordell of CyptoCoins News wrote, “If the promotion is meant to have a long duration, it will need to be refined significantly in order to prevent abuse and provide full access.”

Despite Ehrsam’s reassurance that abuse will be prevented, Cordell argued, “It is very simple to create an .edu email address for free in minutes. Creating false email accounts could allow users to abuse the system and continually claim the $10 bonus if the system is not well regulated.”

By offering young people a chance to invest in Bitcoin, companies like Coinbase could be key players in expanding the market for digital currencies. This could potentially ensure monetary freedom for the future by allowing bitcoin into the hands of our youth.

Coinbase currently has over one million consumer wallets, 30,000 merchants, 5,000 API applications and U.S. bank integration. They also have a remote team consisting of 35 contractors.