MIT students who got “Free BTC” sing the blues
- MIT students who took part in a BTC experiment received a third of a BTC in 2014 – worth $ 100 at the time.
- The MIT study aimed to show how this could serve as an investment opportunity.
- Participants would have had returns of 13,000% by mid-April this year, when BTC hit its all-time high of $ 64,500.
MIT, a research university known for its affinity for technology development, conducted a study on cryptocurrency in 2014 that found students able to get $ 100 worth of BTC after a long survey. The researchers gave away $ 500,000 worth of BTC to students.
MIT students learn about Bitcoin
According to a Bloomberg report, the MIT Bitcoin study was conducted by Dan Elitzer and Jeremy Rubin trying to “look into the future.”
The campus turned into a global digital asset hub where companies accept Bitcoin and install BTC ATMs. A 2016 Boston Globe headline illustrated “Bitcoin Is Not Gaining Much Currency at MIT” as low interest.
Mary Spanjers, who participated in the MIT study, told Bloomberg that she was still “hiding” her BTC.
She stressed that a third of Bitcoin could have brought in its $ 20,000 before the market slump in May. In addition, the $ 500,000 bitcoins given to students would also have been worth over $ 60 million.
According to May, the participating students viewed the initiative as “… a little joke,” with some selling their free BTC before buying more. Erik Pinos, who currently works at Ontology, insists that he is “all about cryptocurrencies” as he keeps 100% of his Bitcoin savings.
On the downside
- Bitcoin’s price hit $ 713 in June 2016 and an additional $ 1071 in January 2017, which could tempt people to sell or spend their BTC for a profit.
- Many of the participants still deal in some way with blockchain or cryptocurrency even after they graduate.
- Bitcoin proved in 2014 and 2015 that it can be used as a unit of exchange as companies were willing to accept it as a means of payment.
- The sharp shift has changed the use case of Bitcoin from a currency to a store of value.
People sold and held
Christian Catalini, who oversaw the study, revealed that 1 in 10 people paid out early within the first two weeks, while 1 in 4 took the profits when the experiment ended in 2017 – a high of $ 19,834.93.
Similar to how a person spent 10,000 BTC on a pizza, study participants also reportedly spent their new money on groceries and other goods. According to Bloomberg’s report, the students bought “a mango smoothie, new shoes, pizza, beer,” while debating whether to buy a burrito for $ 49.
The participants justified their argument by saying that they did not regret having spent the “free money” on them. Sam Udotong, who developed Fireflies, a grocery delivery app, allowed students to pay for his service with Bitcoin, which at the time earned him BTC worth $ 3 to 4 per delivery. In 2021, his profits would have been $ 300 to $ 400 per delivery had he not spent his earnings at a sushi restaurant that accepted Bitcoin.
Bitcoin as a mainstream ideal
Some even pondered the premise of Bitcoin as a store of value during the 2014 study. Mary Spanjers is reportedly still having her free bitcoins and is keeping them hidden. Other participants “lost access to the wallet” or can no longer log in with their e-mail addresses.
The Boston Globe reported on the study of bringing Bitcoin closer to mass adoption as a novel project in 2014, but only “14%” were using BTC when the experiment ended. In 2014, a Forbes author also came up with the idea of living on Bitcoin for a week. While Bitcoin was largely considered a means of payment at the time, in recent years perception has shifted towards Bitcoin as a store of value.
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