MIT Bitcoin Project Announces First Round Competition Winners

Nermin Hajdarbegovic
Jul 3, 2014 at 14:00 UTC
Updated Jul 3, 2014 at 15:34 UTC

The MIT Bitcoin Project has announced the winners of the first round of its BitComp competition, with three teams winning cash prizes.

BitComp, which launched last month, is a small MIT-wide competition aimed at encouraging bitcoin innovation among students.

The aim of the MIT Bitcoin Project is to make bitcoin more accessible to students at the noted Massachusetts educational institute, and raise awareness of the new technology. It will fully kick off later this fall, when each MIT undergraduate student will receive $100 in bitcoin.

Rewarding innovation

In the competition, the MIT students, or teams of up to five members (which can include non-MIT members), were asked to submit a 250-word pitch for a bitcoin project.

The top three projects of this first round, which were announced today, have received a symbolic reward of $250.

Round two will award three $750 prizes, while the third and final round offers the opportunity to win five $1,500 prizes and a $5,000 grand prize. It is still not too late to sign up and there’s still more than $14,000 up for grabs.

In total, 82 undergraduates, 20 graduate students and 14 alumni took part in the first round of the competition, along with a single high school student. Their pitches were judged by 12 bitcoin community members, including executives and bitcoin evangelists.

Joi Ito, Director of the MIT Media Lab, and Christian Catalini, Assistant Professor of Technological Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Strategic Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management, served as final round judges.

And the winners are …

The three teams that stood out came up with very different projects.

Computer students Tiffany Wong and Pavleen Thurkal developed BitTax, which helps legitimize cryptocurrencies by providing a way for users to correctly file bitcoin related taxes. The team said they want to be a part of bringing bitcoin to mainstream users in a responsible, legitimate way.

Amir Lazarovich, Oz Nathan and Guy Zyskind developed Ethos, which uses block chain technology to decentralize online identities, “allowing people to regain control and ownership of their own data”.

Rafael Pass, Robert Parks and Lior Seeman won their reward for the sWallet, which is an effort to develop a more secure, yet easy-to-use wallet. They believe practical and secure wallets are “crucial to achieving mainstream bitcoin adoption”.

The deadline for the submission of round two projects is July 27, while entrants to the third and final round need to submit their projects by August 24.

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