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Half a million dollars-worth of bitcoin is being given away to undergraduates at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as part of a scheme to encourage use and awareness of the digital currency.

From yesterday, each MIT undergrad became eligible to claim $100 in bitcoin (0.290272 BTC at press time) by completing a survey hosted by The MIT Bitcoin Project, the student organisation that is organising the giveaway.

However, students looking to obtain the free funds will have to hurry. The survey must be completed before the scheme ends on 2nd November.

The survey results will form part of a study conducted by the organisers to promote the university as a "global hub" for bitcoin research and business.

The MIT Bitcoin Project was announced in April after two MIT students, Jeremy Rubin and Dan Elitzer, raised $500,000 from university alumni and members of the bitcoin community.

The fund-raising objective was to distribute the funds in bitcoin to the more than 4,500 undergraduates enrolled at MIT to spur academic and entrepreneurial activity at the campus.

Spending the free coin

Students who receive the free bitcoin already have a couple of options if they want to spend them on campus. The university bookshop, for example, began accepting bitcoin last month. Textbooks, school supplies and an array of MIT-branded merchandise will be available for bitcoin purchasers.

Then there's Fireflies, an application being developed by MIT students that will allow users to crowdsource goods and services for bitcoin. It won the 'Awesome Award' and a prize of $1,500 at the summer-long MIT BitComp, a contest to encourage the development of bitcoin-focused apps.

The Fireflies team told CoinDesk last month that it would focus on making its services more easily available to MIT students, particularly to complement the planned bitcoin giveaway.

The MIT Bitcoin Club, where Elitzer is president, has also proved to be one of the most active chapters of the College Cryptocurrency Network, a fast-growing group of student organisations focused on digital currencies.

"As one of the longest-standing CCN chapters, we've been in the position of providing assistance to newer and prospective members," Elitzer said, adding:

"Even though a lot of students look to the MIT Bitcoin Club as a prime example of a successful CCN chapter, they should realise that everything we've done was built during the past year."

Featured image: alunwk / Flickr


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