Simon Fraser University embraces bitcoin, accepts virtual currency for textbooks

BURNABY, B.C. — A British Columbia university is now accepting the digital currency bitcoin at all of its bookstores, a move that staff claim is a first for Canadian post-secondary schools.

Simon Fraser University has also announced that automated bitcoin vending machines will soon begin operating on campuses in Burnaby, Vancouver and Surrey.

“What we’re trying to do is get students to talk about innovation and try bitcoin,” said Mark McLaughlin, SFU’s executive director of ancillary services, in a news release.

“The only way to have an opinion about digital currencies is to learn about it, and we are providing a first-hand experience in that regard.”

Bitcoin is a virtual currency that is transferred online without the help or regulation of any central bank.

The university broke new ground last year when it became Canada’s first post-secondary institution to accept bitcoin donations.

“It is our mission to challenge and engage students and provide them with learning opportunities not only inside the classroom but also outside,” said McLaughlin.

Simon Fraser has one of the most active bitcoin student clubs in North America, which has been pushing for the school to introduce the currency, said McLaughlin.

SFU Bitcoin Club founder Michael Yeung likened the shift to the early days of the Internet.

“The coming era of virtual currencies is inevitable and exciting,” said Yeung.

Geordon Omand, The Canadian Press