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Cumbria student is first in UK to pay tuition fees with bitcoin

A Phd student studying “complementary currencies” will become the first person to pay for a UK higher education course with the digital currency Bitcoin.

Leander Bindewald will make the payment to Cumbria University, which announced in January that it would be the first public university in the world to accept Bitcoins, on two of its courses.

Bitcoin is an online currency and payment system which enables the international transmission of funds.
Thousands of merchants worldwide accept this “cryptocurrency” – so called because it uses cryptography to guarantee its security.

Each of the millions of Bitcoins currently in existence is represented by a unique online registration number. To receive a Bitcoin, a user must also have a Bitcoin address - a randomly generated string of 27 to 34 letters and numbers - which acts as a kind of virtual post box.

Mr Bindewald, originally from Germany and now working for the New Economics Foundation in London, will be completing his PhD -- on the role of complementary currencies in the new social paradigm of money -- at Cumbria. The payment will cover just one month’s installment of his tuition fees, but the university said it represented a momentous moment in the history of currency innovation.

The transaction will be completed on May 8, during a panel dedicated to new currency innovations at the Ouishare Conference in Paris, a three-day festival about the collaborative economy.

Mr Bindewald said: “Bitcoin is posing questions about the nature of money and our financial and social systems, which do not find simple answers in traditional banking and economic theory.”

Professor Jem Bendell, Director of the Institute for Leadership and Sustainability at Cumbria University, said: “Making his payment during  the Ouishare conference in Paris is an important statement that crypto-currencies can be part of a broader shift in economic thinking.”