by Joseph Young
Georgia Institute of Technology student Karak Shah has co-founded and launched the Georgia Tech Bitcoin Club to organize technical and non-technical events to discuss the potential of bitcoin in the finance sector.
“Our main focus as a club is to organize technical and non-technical events to spread awareness about Bitcoin,” said Shah. “People are becoming more aware of Bitcoin, and the campus officially supports payments in bitcoins.”
Shah further emphasized that most of the 15,000+ students at Georgia Tech, an Atlanta-based highly respected business and engineering educational institution have a vague idea about bitcoin and consider using the digital currency in campus.
“Georgia Tech already has a vibrant startup community, and we want more people working with this technology,” he added.
Georgia Institute of Technology first partnered with global bitcoin processing firm BitPay in October 2014 to integrate bitcoin payments into its stadium concession sales and campus card declining account program.
Essentially, the integration of bitcoin in the university’s card balance system enables all university students to use bitcoin in purchasing most of the goods sold at the campus. The partnership was initiated by BitPay chairman Tony Gallippi, who is an alumnus of Georgia Tech.
“Georgia Tech is one of the best sources of innovation in the country,” said Gallippi. “BitPay is proud to offer its own innovative bitcoin payment processing to the university and its students.”
Since their initial partnership, Georgia Tech has been looking into bitcoin and its application in conventional industries. BitPay CEO Stephen Pair and Bitcoin Club leader Shah also emphasized that the volume of Bitcoin transactions in the university is fairly low, but has been increasing in a constant pace.
“We are completely committed to Bitcoin. Someday there will be critical mass of people with Bitcoin in their wallets that will drive in-person transactions,” said Pair. “We are integrating with many point-of-sale systems to make sure we’re prepared for that eventuality.”
Today, bitcoin can be used to buy food, tickets to competitions, and other goods in the stadium. According to Shah, because of the increasing general Bitcoin awareness on the campus, the interest from people “tinkering” with Bitcoin’s distributed ledger technology at the school’s incubator rose.
As a response to the gradual growth of Bitcoin adoption in the university, Pair plans to create a relationship with the school’s College of Computing to engage in various collaborative research initiatives to discover new technologies in the bitcoin space.
Similar programs exist at Stanford and MIT, said Pair. “Stanford’s Bitcoin group is active in spinning out start-up companies,” he said.