In 2014, a special event took place at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), a leading US technical university. At the time, the MIT Bitcoin Project was said to be giving away $500,000 in bitcoins (BTC) to students. The project aimed to introduce digital currency innovation to students and to create a kind of cryptocurrency ecosystem at MIT to study the use of digital currencies.
Each student could receive $100 worth of bitcoin after registration. At the time, the value of bitcoin was such that $100 was equivalent to 0.3BTC. Ultimately, 3,100 students would enroll in the project and $300,000 was spent on bitcoins.
Converted to current prices, this was an astronomical $33.8 million.
It gets much more painful. Many students spent their free bitcoins directly on all kinds of things. Many students used the bitcoins to pay for their groceries or went out to eat at a sushi bar. In mid-April this year, the 0.3 BTC received by many students would have a market value of nearly $20,000. Those were expensive groceries.
Of course, the students in 2014 could not see into the future. Many students saw the project as a joke. It was not exactly taken seriously by large groups of students. It is for this reason that by many, everything was spent on trivial expenses. After all, it was free money. However, there was also a fair amount of students who did not directly spend the bitcoins.
An MIT professor who helped with the project states that 10% of the students had already converted everything to US dollars within two weeks. 25% of the participating students ran out of bitcoins when the project came to an end in 2017.
75% of the students were still in possession of bitcoins after 3 years. If they were still in possession of the free bitcoins in 2021, they will probably remain grateful to the university for the playful project for the rest of their lives.