Cumbria’s Bitcoin Future

(left) IFLAS course leader Jem Bendall (right) PhD student Leander Bindewald,

(left) IFLAS course leader Jem Bendall (right) PhD student Leander Bindewal paying by Bitcoin in Paris

Bitcoin usage is going from strength to strength at the University Of Cumbria.

In January the University became the first in the world to accept the digital currency as a payment method for tuition fees on two of its IFLAS (Institute for leadership and sustainability) courses.

PhD student Leander Bindewald, 34, was the first student in the world to use the new system, paying for one month’s tuition fees using the virtual currency. The London based student paid 1.032 bitcoins, the equivalent of £260 in May of this year.

South African student John Ziniades also used bitcoin to pay for his course, a certificate of achievement in sustainable exchange, which is based at the University’s London campus.

Following this success, John is setting up a community currency back in Cape Town in the New Year, backed by IFLAS associate scholar Will Ruddick who was behind the successful launch of the Banglapesa currency in Kenya.

A community currency aims at giving local groups access to interest free credit, and enables communities to finance social services, from healthcare to education.

Leader of the IFLAS course at the University, Professor Jem Bendell said that “providing an opportunity to pay by bitcoin has worked.”

He praised the initiative, saying that “It provided a cheap means of international payment by a student from South Africa.”

He continued: “It also meant one of our PhD students achieved a world first, so his research into currency innovation became more widely known, with invitations to international conferences.

One of the conferences Bendell mentions include the 2014 SIBOS conference, an event annually attended by leading financial figures, to debate the latest developments and trend within the industry, which took place in Boston in September.

Bindewald’s world first at the University led to him presenting a talk on ‘The future of money – the rise of crypto currencies’, and bitcoin in particular.

On the subject of crypto currencies, Bendell suggested they that they are now more accepted in general society then in the past, saying:

“Crypto currencies are now more generally accepted as an innovation that is here to stay, and although my view is Bitcoin is not the best design for sustainable economies, it has opened the door to a field of innovation.”

He continued, “The UK government is currently conducting a consultation on future policy towards digital currencies, so the topic is a warm one.”

With the university at the forefront of this successful innovation, the virtual currency described by Sir Richard Branson as “incredible” seems to be gaining traction as a viable payment, and something that will be around for years to come.

If you’re interested in bitcoin, and want to find out more, including updates of John Ziniades’ community currency, please check out:

http://www.cumbria.ac.uk/Courses/Subjects/BusinessComputing/Short/SustainableExchange.aspx

What do you think? Is bitcoin a safe and sustainable way of paying your university tuition fees? Leave your comments below.

 

Jon Carter

 

 

 

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