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University of Nicosia in Cyprus becomes first in the world to accept Bitcoin

Posted on Thursday, 21 November by

University Of Nicosia

The University of Nicosia in Cyprus has become the first institution in the world to accept payment in the form of bitcoin for tuitions and other fees.

In a move that is no doubt a great way of garnering free PR for their prospective courses, the university known as UNic, is not only the first in the world to accept the digital currency as payment fromt its students, but will also offer a Master of Science degree in Digital Currency in Spring 2014.

UNic’s Chief Financial Officer Dr. Christos Vlachos said of bitcoin:

We are acutely aware that digital currency is an inevitable technical development that will lead to significant innovation in online commerce, financial systems, international payments and remittances and global economic development.”

Dr. Vlachos says he also believes that the digital currency will be able to “create more efficient services and serve as a mechanism for spreading financial services to under-banked regions of the world.”

The university, the largest in Cyprus with 5,000 students and ranked 3845 in the world realised the potential of the digital currency after it acknowledged requests from online students from under-banked countries, in particular Kenya.

The administration decided that bitcoin was a faster, cheaper, easier and more convenient way of processing payments and subsequently offered it as an option to its students.

Economic historian at the London School of Economics, Garrick Hileman, suggested that the move is a sign of growth in bitcoin’s credibility as a medium of exchange adding:

The most fertile ground for bitcoin is in places like Cyprus, Argentina, Iceland, China and other countries which have experienced significant financial disruptions and/or maintain strict financial controls.”

When questioned about its decision in light of bitcoin’s recent volatility, a university spokesperson told GeekWire: “The intention of this initiative is to ease transmission difficulties for certain students and to build our own practical knowledge about this field, not to engage in currency speculation.”

UNic also plans to lobby the Cypriot Government for a framework to develop Cyprus into a hub for bitcoin exchange, trading and banking. The bitcoin price saw a massive surge to $266 in April during the financial crisis in Cyprus.

In the last couple of weeks, the price of an individual bitcoin has continued to soar, with recent fluctuations over $900, up 4000% since the beginning of the year, heightening interest amongst mainstream consumers.

To keep track of bitcoin’s price over the coming few months, click here.

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Lewis Scrafton
22. Co-founder and editor of SQ Magazine. Studying at University of Sussex. Interned at MATTER and published in The Guardian.

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