Every student at a US university is to be given $100 (£59) in bitcoin after a Wall Street financier donated $500,000 (£297,000).
Students at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) will receive the virtual currency when they return to campus this autumn, as part of a study to see whether a small-scale bitcoin ecosystem can be created.
Students will be free to spend their bitcoin in any way they please, but it is hoped the students will use it to trade and barter with each other.
Dan Elitzer, who founded the university's bitcoin club, wrote on the website: "We want to issue a challenge to some of the brightest technical minds of a generation: 'When you step onto campus this fall, all of your classmates are going to have access to bitcoin; what are YOU going to build to give them interesting ways to use it?'"
Bitcoin is a virtual currency – also known as a cryptocurrency – which was introduced five years ago.
Bitcoins can be mined using advanced computer processors, and exchanged between people at often fluctuating rates.
It is still unclear whether it is a passing fad, or a currency of the future.
Computer science sophomore Jeremy Rubin, who helped raise the cash, believes it is the latter.
He said: "Giving students access to cryptocurrencies is analogous to providing them with internet access at the dawn of the internet era."
Details of how to distribute the currency to the university's 4,528 undergraduates are still being ironed out.
Once distributed, however, MIT will have the biggest concentration of people with access to the cryptocurrency.
Most of the cash was donated by MIT graduate Alexander Morcos, who works in high-frequency trading in New York.
Original headline: University To Give Every Student Free Bitcoin
Most Popular Stories
- National Retail Federation Reduces Sales Forecast
- Sporty Ford Fiesta Fires on All 3 Cylinders
- Pandora Tumbles in Late Trading
- Execs Help Entrepreneurs, Get Chevy Volts
- Small Firms Take Out the Trash in Jersey
- Citigroup Unit Paying $5 Million to Settle SEC Charges
- Amazon Hiring on Calif.'s Central Coast
- Obama Seeks Help From Central American Leaders
- 'Big Bang' Writers Hit Comic-Con
- CalPERS Still Profiting From Tainted Investments