The University of Puget Sound may have become the first university in the country to accept a gift from an alumnus in Bitcoins.
The gift of 14.5 Bitcoins — the equivalent of $10,000 — was made Tuesday by Nicolas Cary, a 2007 graduate of UPS. Cary is CEO of Blockchain, an encrypted digital wallet that is used to store Bitcoins.
Bitcoins are a form of open-source digital currency that allows users to sidestep the traditional financial system. They are not affiliated with any country or bank. Proponents say the currency’s strength is that its fees are a fraction of the cost of credit card transactions, but skeptics have questioned the worth of digital currency and some have labeled it a fad.
The university at first didn’t know how to accept the gift, and had to figure out a procedure for the donation, said Sherry Mondou, vice president for finance and administration. The money will go to the university’s alumni fund, which is used for a variety of purposes, including student financial aid, academic programs and research.
According to Cary, a Bitcoin wiki that lists nonprofits accepting Bitcoin donations supports his claim that UPS is the first American college or university to accept the currency for a donation.