Ever heard of Bitcoin? A new Penn State club is out to make sure you do.
The Penn State Bitcoin Club, founded by President Patrick Cines and Vice President Ryan McCabe, is advocating for the use of the global “cryptocurrency” that could revolutionize the way we exchange and store money. You may have heard of Bitcoin from another Penn Stater, Ross Ulbricht, who used the currency to fund his global online drug market.
Of course, it’s not all nefarious. Here’s some explanation about what Bitcoin is:
Still confused? McCabe explained that we can think of Bitcoin mining as mining for gold.
“There’s a set amount of gold in the ground, and there’s a set amount of bitcoins that can be found,” McCabe said. “Currently there’s a set amount of gold that’s been pulled out of the ground and there’s still gold remaining. The same thing goes for bitcoins.”
You can also think about the concept of cryptocurrency this way, Cines explained: Remember exchanging music on a peer-to-peer basis on Limewire? Currencies like Bitcoin provide the same thing, but with currency.
Though the Bitcoin concept is tricky to grasp (there’s all sorts of information about it here), it’s growing quickly. It’s easy and cheap to transact bitcoins, one of which has an average American value of $636.00. The primary goal of the club here is three-fold, according to Cines – educating students and the public about the advantages of it and other cryptocurrencies, helping small businesses integrate Bitcoin, and creating philanthropic outlets through it.
“The whole idea is there’s is no government involved, you can send money anywhere in the world to anyone and it’s quick,” Cines said. “One of the things now is, people look at Bitcoin as a way to replace websites like Paypal, replace Western Union.”
Cines and McCabe are miners themselves, but for Litecoin, a cheaper online currency. They met online on Reddit, then in real life three weeks ago in the HUB. Cines had the idea for the club, so they reached out to friends who were interested in Bitcoin to join. Since, they’ve created a website and Facebook page. It should be an official Penn State organization soon after it finishes the regular procedures.
The club would like to convert bitcoins into donations for THON and other charities, eventually. The founders recounted the story of a man who made more than $20,000 simply by bringing a Bitcoin sign and QR code to ESPN’s College Gameday.
“Our idea was, if the world can send this one guy that much money not even for a philanthropic cause, what if there is a real purpose behind that money,” Cines said.
Especially after Silk Road, many people believe Bitcoins are only good for perusing the black market. But online wallets are decreasing the anonymity involved, Cines said, and there are illegal procedures inevitably involved with any type of money.
“I’ve heard people say, ‘I saw on the news that you can buy drugs with it,'” McCabe said. “But it’s a lot more than a means to get illegal things.”
Bitcoin is certainly on the rise. Is it on the road to dominance?
“[Paper money] won’t fully be replaced by Bitcoin, but it’s definitely true that our entire world is constantly evolving into a more globalized society,” Cines said, “so it’s only inevitable that, why not have a currency that’s completely global?”