The CITE, a blog published by the National Association of College Stores, takes a look at the intersection of education and technology, highlighting issues that range from course materials to learning delivery to the student experience. Comments, discussion, feedback, and ideas are welcome.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Paying Tuition with Bitcoins

Bitcoin is a digital currency that uses cryptography to control the creation and transfer of money. Users earn bitcoins by processing transactions through specialized computer hardware or in exchange for products, services, or other currencies.

The University of Cumbria in Great Britain is planning to accept bitcoins as tuition payment for two degree programs by the end of the year, but not everyone is impressed.

“Target students probably don’t already have ready access to bitcoin and will have to buy it in order to pay their tuition fees, so the move is probably best seen as a publicity stunt than a real convenience,” Mark D. Ryan, professor of computer security at the University of Birmingham, wrote in a post on phys.org.

One bitcoin costs about $800 in a constantly changing market. Last year, Merrill Lynch and the Bank of America released a report that predicted bitcoins could account for 10% of online transactions, but that the unregulated nature of the currency made it a favorite for cybercriminals.

“The university is not taking any financial risk by accepting bitcoin,” Gordon Fletcher, senior lecturer in information systems at the University of Salford, told TechWeek Europe. “At a simple transactional level, the announcement is the equivalent of stating that students can choose to pay in U.S. or Zimbabwean dollars.”

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