The Georgia Institute of Technology has become the first university to integrate bitcoin into its students' dining and shopping experience.
Campus payment cards, known as BuzzCards, can now be topped up with the digital currency at the university's BuzzCard Centre, located inside its bookstore.
BuzzCards can be used at more than 200 locations on campus, allowing students to pay for meals, parking, recreational facilities and tickets for various sporting events using bitcoin. Georgia Tech also features 10 BuzzCard ATMs where students can withdraw hard cash.
Former students and current bitcoin executives Tony Gallippi and Stephen Pair will handle payment processing for the institute via their company BitPay.
The university's Bobby Dodd Stadium is another key venue in the rollout. The stadium already sports a bitcoin logo, courtesy of a BitPay partnership with the Georgia Tech Athletic Association announced last July.
Now, using any bitcoin wallet, Georgia Tech sports fans can pay for drinks and snacks at two point-of-sale devices in its student area.
Students are, however, likely to use Georgia Tech's own 'Jacket Wallet' at the checkout. Unveiled last week, the custom implementation of Pheeva's bitcoin wallet is only available to users with a campus email address.
As a 'gamified' concept, the wallet rewards users based on how they promote its in-built social network, the COG Cooperative.
Innovation and expansion
BitPay executive chairman Tony Gallippi said BitPay was proud to offer an innovative bitcoin payment system to the university and its students.
Georgia Tech's athletic director Mike Bobinski said:
"At Georgia Tech, we are always looking to lead in innovative ways, and this partnership with BitPay gives us an opportunity to do so by integrating this new technology at a sports venue and in the daily lives of our students."
Bobinski said Georgia Tech is looking forward to working with BitPay to make bitcoin a viable payment option for students and sports fans.
Georgia Tech is currently ranked as one of the top 10 public universities in the US, with more than 100 centres focused on interdisciplinary research. More than 21,000 tech-savvy students attend the university and soon they will all have access to bitcoin.
In addition, Stephanie Wargo, vice president of marketing at BitPay, revealed the company has ambitions to take the programme further afield:
"We see the student market as a huge potential as these millennials are the executives of the future. They have grown up with technology and are quick to embrace new ideas, like bitcoin."
Around the world
Although Georgia Tech may be the first university to fully integrate bitcoin in its student payment system, a number of campuses are currently experimenting with the currency.
The University of Nicosia in Cyprus started accepting bitcoin payments for tuitions and fees last December. It now offers courses on the digital currency along with a number of US universities, including New York University and Duke University.
On campuses where the formal university leadership has yet to embrace bitcoin, students groups are looking to start these conversations.
For example, earlier this year the MIT Bitcoin Club announced plans to distribute $100 in BTC to each student on campus. Several bitcoin-related apps developed by students were also awarded £15,000 in cash prizes at a MIT Bitcoin Project competition last month.
Disclaimer: CoinDesk founder Shakil Khan is an investor in BitPay.
Georgia Tech Tower and Bobby Dodd Stadium images by Eugene Buchko via Shutterstock.