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MIT Bitcoin Project Names Final Winners of $15k App Contest

(@mpmcsweeney) | Published on September 2, 2014 at 15:35 GMT

The final winners of the summer-long bitcoin app development contest at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have been announced.

The grand prize of $5,000 went to the team behind Ethos, a platform for establishing and maintaining private online identification using the block chain. The team previously picked up prizes in the first and second rounds.

The MIT BitComp, first announced in June, offered $15,000 in cash prizes to spur development of bitcoin apps and get the campus more engaged with digital currency in the run-up to the fall semester. The MIT Bitcoin Project, which organized the competition, plans to distribute $100 in bitcoin to each undergraduate sometime this month.

In addition to the grand prize, five other awards valued at $1,500 were given to contest participants. These included the Awesome Award, which went to a social favor app called Fireflies that utilizes bitcoin.

Guy Zyskind, a member of the grand prize-winning Ethos development team that also included Amir Lazarovich, said in a statement that the promise of digital currency lies beyond its use as a payment system, noting:

“We believe bitcoin as a currency will quickly become mainstream in the coming years. That said, the real value behind bitcoin is its being a decentralized and trustless complex system. In many ways, bitcoin as an idea is an optimization to democracy using technology. As such, the future of bitcoin definitely holds far more interesting applications than the currency itself.”

Final winners detailed

Other projects were honored for their contributions to the contest.

The Next Billion Award is meant to honor the team that works to bring digital currency to emerging markets. The winner was Rex Mercury, a bitcoin-to-SMS gateway service designed to facilitate cross-border payments. The development team included Will Clurman, Michelle Higa Fox, Brett Ludwig, Allan Onyango and Matt Utterback.

BitStation, a wallet designed specifically for MIT students, picked up the Improving MIT Award. Mitchell Gu, Jiahao Li and Nelson Liu spearheaded the campus-focused project.

The Bitcoin Evangelism Award was given to the team behind Potlucky, an app that can be used to make simple, off-block chain transactions. Potlucky was designed by Nezar Abdennur, Ethan Heilman and Adam Tavares.

The contest also spotlit an implementation of CoinJoin, a bitcoin transaction anonymizer built by MIT senior Brandon Miranda. Fireflies, the task-sharing application that won the Awesome Award, was created by Samuel Udotong and Om Mahida.

Foundation for bitcoin growth

The BitComp intends to get MIT-based developers thinking about using bitcoin in the run-up to the distribution set for the fall semester. A number of teams submitted proposals to the contest, open to all members of the university’s community.

The event is also part of a broader effort to integrate digital currency within MIT. Earlier this summer, the MIT Bitcoin Project organized the university's Bitcoin Expo, which attracted hundreds of community members and featured Bitcoin Foundation chief scientist Gavin Andresen and Circle co-founder and CTO Sean Neville.

As for the project winners, many of the developers said that they plan to continue building on the work they started this summer. As the team behind Fireflies noted, the next step is making it easier for these services to take root at MIT, which includes helping students spend their $100 in bitcoin.

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the MIT Bitcoin Club organized MIT BitComp. The event was organized by the MIT Bitcoin Project.

Image via Shutterstock

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