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Bitcoin Market Aimed at College Students, CoinBase Bitcoin Give Away

Op-ed - Bitcoin Market Aimed at College Students

The San Francisco-based bitcoin wallet provider has successfully given away free bitcoin to more than 20,000 college students. CyptoCoins News reported that any student signing up for Coinbase would receive $10 worth of bitcoin. Students were required to verify enrollment by signing up with an email domain ending in “edu.”At the time Coinbase founder, Fred Ehrsam, announced the limited time offer on Twitter, it was only available to a handful of “edus.”

Now the international digital wallet has posted a list of the top 10 schools with the most signups. The University of Michigan led the way with 941 signups. The University of California, Berkeley wasn’t far behind with 939 signups, the University of Illinois had 873 and the University of Texas ranked number four with 698 signups.Some users complained via Reddit that they were having trouble signing up. But Ehrsam quickly 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 reported success in signing up.Coinbase went the extra mile to ensure security by requesting students provide a phone number that could be verified.“This extra check has greatly reduced scammers trying to take advantage of this promotion. So it allows us to keep this promotion going,” said Coinbase. 

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 giveaway, 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.