Simon Fraser University is the first Canadian university to accept the digital currency bitcoin at its bookstores, and the university added that the currency is expected to be accepted soon at vending machines located on several of its campuses.
Bookstores on Burnaby, Vancouver and Surrey campuses will officially begin accepting the currency this week, where bitcoins will be accepted as payment for textbooks and other goods. Soon after, Bitcoin automated vending machines (AVMs) will also open on the same three campuses. The AVMs will be provided by Canadian company BitSent, writes Stephen Hui for The Georgia Straight. The machines will support the payment method by allowing users to purchase the digital currency for cash.
Ribbon-cutting ceremonies will mark the occasion at each location, where prizes and gifts will be available. In order to push customers to use the new currency, the first 100 customers who spend $20 or more with Bitcoins will receive a $5 bookstore gift card.
Bitcoin is an online currency that is transferred virtually without any assistance from a central bank.
“What we’re trying to do is get students to talk about innovation and try bitcoin,” said Mark McLaughlin, SFU’s executive director of ancillary services, in a news release. “The only way to have an opinion about digital currencies is to learn about it, and we are providing a first-hand experience in that regard.” He continued to say, “As a university focused on innovation, we want to provide our students the opportunity to try digital currencies like Bitcoin through AVMs and within the bookstore and other retail locations on campus.”
One of the most active bitcoin student clubs on the continent is located at the school, and has repeatedly asked the school to make use of the currency. According to SFU Bitcoin Club founder Michael Yeung, the introduction of bitcoin is a bit like the beginning of the internet. “The coming era of virtual currencies is inevitable and exciting,” said Yeung.
“It is our mission to challenge and engage students and provide them with learning opportunities not only inside the classroom but also outside,” said McLaughlin.
The school has continued to make a commitment to empower its students through campus innovations like the bitcoin initiative. According to McLaughlin, the idea behind the introduction of bitcoin is to encourage a conversation pertaining to the future of currency and the increased use of technology. As Vancouver continues to become a hub for digital finance, the school is becoming more involved in the process.
“What we’re trying to do is get students to talk about innovation and try Bitcoin,” says McLaughlin. “The only way to have an opinion about digital currencies is to learn about it, and we are providing a first-hand experience in that regard.”
One bitcoin is currently worth $237 USD ($297 CDN).