The University of Nicosia in Cyprus today announced it will accept payments from students in Bitcoin, making it the world's first accredited university to do so. The move doesn't come as a huge surprise, as the island nation of Cyprus has been closely linked with Bitcoin this year. As the country's financial crisis deepened last Spring, Cypriot leaders accepted a bailout deal from the EU that involved taxing almost 10 percent on deposits over €100,000 ($134,000), leading to a rush on the banks. Some of that withdrawn money was invested in Bitcoin, with daily transactions tripling in the aftermath of the deal. The currency's value soared and has continued to be strong ever since.
"We are acutely aware that digital currency is an inevitable technical development."
It's perhaps fitting, then, that Cyprus' largest private university is the first in the world to accept the fledgling currency. It's also launching a new master of science course in Digital Currency for next year, which aims to help professionals better understand the intricacies of currencies like Bitcoin. "We are acutely aware that digital currency is an inevitable technical development that will lead to significant innovation in online commerce, financial systems, international payments, and remittances and global economic development," says Dr. Christos Vlachos, the university's chief financial officer. "Digital currency will create more efficient services and will serve as a mechanism for spreading financial services to under-banked regions of the world."
Although it has pledged to accept Bitcoin for tuition fees and other payments, the university won't be keeping the funds in its Bitcoin wallet for long. A spokesperson tells GeekWire "the intention of this initiative is to ease transmission difficulties for certain students and to build our own practical knowledge about this field, not to engage in currency speculation." As such, any payments received will be immediately converted to euros.