MIT Bitcoin Club Names Final Winners of $15,000 App Contest

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The final winners of the summer-long bitcoin app development contest at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have been announced.

The grand prize of $5,000 went to the team behind Ethos, a platform for establishing and maintaining private online identification using the block chain. The team previously picked up prizes in the first and second rounds.

The MIT BitComp, first announced in June, offered $15,000 in cash prizes to spur development of bitcoin apps and get the campus more engaged with digital currency in the run-up to the fall semester. The MIT Bitcoin Club, which organized the competition, plans to distribute $100 in bitcoin to each undergraduate sometime this month.

In addition to the grand prize, five other awards valued at $1,500 were given to contest participants. These included the Awesome Award, which went to a social favor app called Fireflies that utilizes bitcoin.

Guy Zyskind, a member of the grand prize-winning Ethos development team, commented in a statement that the promise of digital currency lies beyond its use as a payment system, noting:

“We believe bitcoin as a currency will quickly become mainstream in the coming years. That said, the real value behind bitcoin is its being a decentralized and trustless complex system. In many ways, bitcoin as an idea is an optimization to democracy using technology. As such, the future of bitcoin definitely holds far more interesting applications than the currency itself.”

Final winners detailed

Other projects were honored for their contributions to the contest.

The Next Billion Award is meant to honor the team that works to bring digital currency to emerging markets. The winner was Rex Mercury, a bitcoin-to-SMS gateway service designed to facilitate cross-border payments.

BitStation, a wallet designed specifically for MIT students, picked up the Improving MIT Award, while Potlucky – an app that can be used to make simple, off-block chain transactions, was given the Bitcoin Evangelism Award. The contest also spotlit an implementation of CoinJoin, a bitcoin transaction anonymizer built by an MIT student.

Foundation for bitcoin growth

The BitComp intends to get MIT-based developers thinking about using bitcoin in the run-up to the distribution set for the fall semester. A number of teams submitted proposals to the contest, open to all members of the university’s community.

The event is also part of a broader effort to integrate digital currency within MIT. Earlier this summer, the Bitcoin Club organized the university’s Bitcoin Expo, which attracted hundreds of community members and featured Bitcoin Foundation chief scientist Gavin Andresen and Circle co-founder and CTO Sean Neville.

As for the project winners, many of the developers said that they plan to continue building on the work they started this summer. As the team behind Fireflies noted, the next step is making it easier for these services to take root at MIT, which includes helping students spend their $100 in bitcoin.