An Australian University Is Giving Out Ether to Students

The University of New South Wales' consumer loyalty research effort will pay students in ether for making purchases at on-campus retailers.

Oct 16, 2017 at 8:45 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 13, 2021 at 7:02 a.m. UTC

A public university in Australia is embarking on a new consumer loyalty research effort that will see students earning the cryptocurrency ether as they make purchases at on-campus retailers.

The tie-up involves the University of New South Wales (UNSW) and startup LoyaltyX. Confirmed by the university's media office when reached, the Unify Rewards program focuses on the use of a mobile app that can be scanned and used at stores based at the school's location near Sydney.

The program was officially launched on Oct. 6, and is limited to 500 participants who signed up beforehand. Scheduled to last through No. 20 (though this date may vary), it allows participants to earn $5 worth of ether – the cryptocurrency of the ethereum network – for every ten transactions they make through the app.

Several university departments are involved in the initiative, including UNSW's School of Computer Science and Engineering and the School of Business. Though different in scope, it calls to mind an effort at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology which saw researchers distribute $500,000 worth of bitcoin to the university's undergraduate population.

Like that undertaking, UNSW and LoyaltyX are hoping to gather data – expected to be published at a later date – about how those taking part in the research study behave once they start receiving ethers.

"Last month, the value of ether rose by 30%, so we're excited to see how members respond to this type of loyalty currency vs. traditional approaches such as points," Andrew Lowe, LoyaltyX's managing director said in a statement, adding:

"We're confident they'll find it much more engaging, but the research will give us a more definitive answer."
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