The MIT COOP, a store that allows students in the institution to purchase a variety of items from books to t-shirts and other trinkets that have the school’s logo, is accepting Bitcoin payments, according to an announcement made Thursday morning.
MIT COOP is the first bookstore from a major university to support the use of Bitcoin digital currency as a form of payment, which could set a trend for other institutions in the US and in the world.
The president of the COOP, Jerry Murphy said, “The MIT COOP is the first campus-based business to respond to this student-led adoption, continuing its reputation as a cooperative by students and for students. Once we decided to add Bitcoin to our bookstore, we turned to BitPay to make it happen.”
The decision of the COOP to accept Bitcoin payments in its store at MIT is seen as a symbol of its commitment towards providing services to the student culture that is made up of thinkers and leaders from different background. The store has always dedicated to lower the costs for students from the time it was founded.
Executive Chairman and Co-founder of BitPay, Tony Gallippi said, “Students are the nest generation technology leaders and we expect them to be at the forefront of new technology adoption like Bitcoin. As MIT and The COOP are two of America’s most historic examples of innovation, the adoption of Bitcoin continues this tradition.”
This fall, each MIT undergraduate will be given $100 in Bitcoin from the MIT Bitcoin Club that raised above $500,000 for its MIT Bitcoin Project.
According to The Boston Globe, each Bitcoin is worth approximately $500 at the existing exchange rate, which is around quadruple its value last year, but down from the $1,147.25 peak of last year December. This means that its buying power has fluctuated greatly.
The risk of volatile currency such as Bitcoin in retail is not borne by the merchant but by the customer. The prices of the COOP can be listed in US dollars and the payment processing software, BitPay, will take care of the automatic exchange of the Bitcoin money of customers to ensure the store gets dollars.
Users will be able to hold cash in their virtual wallets, which are accessible from mobile devices and computers. While many Bitcoin purchases are online, payments on tablets or phones can be accepted by brick and mortar shops at cash registers.
The most appealing feature to retailers is that the Bitcoin transaction fees do not cost anything more than several pennies, in comparison to few percentage points for credit card purchases. This will give retailers another way through which they can pass on savings. Bitcoin users do not have to disclose any personal information as is required when they are verifying credit card transactions. This reduces identify theft risk. As is the case with cash, a person with Bitcoin has the chance of spending it. However, hackers have managed to steal Bitcoins successfully, and there is nothing victims can do after the theft.