We are truly in a time of internet disruption. The power of connectivity in today’s day and age would be inconceivable to somebody even a decade ago. In 2005, being an app developer wasn’t even a job, yet just 11 years later we have full communities coming together as a result of this connectivity.
The University of Florida Bitcoin Club began remotely, similar to the Blockchain Education Network which brought about its conception. The Blockchain Education Network, known as BEN, is a global, decentralized network of student problem-solvers representing universities all over the world. This is the platform on which my cofounder DM Suja and I met, just as hundreds of students are doing every day through the Network. This is what catalyzed the formation of our club.
It all started one day as I was scrolling BEN’s #general slack channel. I noticed a request from a man named DM Suja, asking people to help him with a product interview. Being an entrepreneur myself, I quickly volunteered to help him with his interviews. It turned out that DM and I would become great friends, serial entrepreneur business partners, and would go on to cofound the University of Florida Bitcoin Club together.
In fact, DM and I had never actually met each other in person until the day of the first club meeting, Friday September 9th. However, we have worked together and communicated regularly, if not daily, since Fall 2015.
This is testament to the power of connectivity afforded to us through disruptive internet technology — a mirror to the decentralized, distributed technology that the UF Bitcoin Club and BEN represent. A technology which is disrupting finance as we know it, using the power of connectivity of the internet to bring us into the Internet of Money. As Andreas Antonopoulos mentions in his book, “6 and ½ billion out of 7 billion people on this planet have no access to the international financial capabilities, that the rest of the world — primarily Western nations — have the luxury to enjoy.”
Bitcoin and blockchain technology strive to bring financial capabilities to the people of the world, wresting monetary power away from the banks and governments, and putting power this in the hands of the people. Similarly, the University of Florida Bitcoin Club and remote groups such as the Blockchain Education Network are empowering students by giving them the knowledge, resources, and network that they require to become integral participants in the realm of financial technology.
This Friday, the University of Florida Bitcoin Club had our first meeting, and it was as successful as we could have hoped for. By spreading awareness via Facebook, word of mouth, and through on-campus outreach efforts, we were able to get nine bold, visionary students to attend our first meeting as well as give these 9 students their first $5 in free bitcoin, through an initiative known as the Bitcoin Airdrop.
The Bitcoin Airdrop allows students to learn how to download and use a bitcoin wallet (BTC.com Wallet) to send and receive their first bitcoin, in a hands-on manner. By partnering with the Blockchain Education Network and other reputable companies within the fintech space, student bitcoin clubs from all over the world seek to introduce 500 university students to the blockchain ecosystem, by giving them their first free $5 in bitcoin.
At our meeting, we were able to introduce students to bitcoin and blockchain technology through an educational presentation that included an explanation into what a bitcoin is, how it is produced through a system of miners, how to trade bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies on an exchange, how to use retailers such as Coinbase to buy/sell bitcoin, and how to store this bitcoin in a secure wallet through the use of public and private keys.
In the end, we had a bunch of excellent questions and students that genuinely seemed excited to continue attending meetings and learning about the possibilities that this new revolutionary technology can afford us. Hopefully as these students network and spread the word of the club through word of mouth, we will continue to grow in attendees and participation.
As we expressed to the students, the eventual goal of the club is to make it like bitcoin — completely decentralized — with the club members acting as “nodes” within the club network, deciding the agenda for each club meeting through a decentralized, democratic voting process (hopefully on through a blockchain infused system such as the DAO).
By utilizing our network of industry players, we hope to bring multiple speaker sessions to The Swamp this semester, as well as the opportunity for our students to network and build relationships with companies in the fintech space.
Through showcasing University of Florida talent to companies in this realm, we hope to see members of the club negotiating internship and potentially full-time positions with some of the companies we partner with. We have already received interest from companies such as Airbitz and Setcoin to speak at our meetings this semester, so we are looking forward to a semester jam-packed with educational and networking opportunities for our members.
To conclude, it is disruptive internet technology that has set the stage for networks like this to form, and which will allow them to continue to grow. However, it is important to keep in mind that it is the nodes in the network, the student leaders which strive for inclusivity and transparency over all, that allow groups such as the Blockchain Education Network and the various student bitcoin clubs throughout the world to execute their goals of equipping university students with the tools, knowledge, and connections they will need to become leaders within this budding industry.
We at the University of Florida Bitcoin Club hope to continue to play an integral role in this process, changing the world by empowering one student at a time.
Note from the author:
The UF Bitcoin club is happy to be a part of this disruptive process. We are actively seeking new members and we openly invite any and all fintech companies to get in touch with us, as we are actively looking to initiate new partnerships.
Please contact Aaron Schwartz or DM Suja at 352–606–4054 if you are interested in initiating a partnership, joining the club, or participating in any way.
Also, please support the club by liking the UF Bitcoin Club Facebook page (@ClubBitcoinUF)