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University of Cumbria to accept Bitcoin payments

31 January 2014

AP

THE University of Cumbria has announced that it will accept payment for some courses in the digital currency Bitcoin. The institution believes that it is the first public university in the world to do so.

The university was formed in 2007 from several bodies, including St Martin's College - a Church of England-founded teacher-training college.

The university said in a statement on Tuesday that students on two programmes that cover "complementary currencies" could pay their fees in Bitcoin.

Bitcoin, which hit the headlines late last year after its value of one bitcoin soared to $900, is an online currency and payment system. It was invented in 2009 by an unknown web developer.

There is no central bank controlling the currency, and there are also bouts of speculation; so the value of Bitcoins is prone to fluctuating wildly. Bitcoin is often used for online gambling or buying drugs, but in the UK and much of the world it remains a legal way of transferring money online.

The director of the University of Cumbria's Institute for Leadership and Sustainability, Professor Jem Bendell, said: "We believe in learning by doing, and so, to help inform our courses on complementary currencies, we are trialling the acceptance of [Bitcoin]."

The European Banking Authority has warned, however, that those using the digital coins lack the consumer protections of traditional currencies.

Professor Bendell said: "Some support Bitcoin due to its speed and cost. . . Others are concerned about it and how it will affect economies and society. We think it is essential to become better informed, and analyse it from many different perspectives."

 

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