Photo by Antana via Flickr

At the home football game against the University of Miami on October 5, Tech concessions at Bobby Dodd began accepting the virtual currency Bitcoin as payment.

According to James Pete, Senior Director of the Information Technology Group wing of Campus Services, the partnership of Tech with BitPay, the facilitating company, came about due to the fact that the company’s founders, Tony Gallippi and Stephen Pair, are both Tech alumni.

According to Pete, their partnership with the Georgia Tech Athletic Association (GTAA) was specifically designed to “broaden and increase awareness of Bitcoins amongst their target demographic of tech-savvy college students.”

Pete also described how a Bitcoin pilot was integrated into the Campus Card Program or Buzzcard. This functionality was soft-launched the week of September 29th, and now has been implemented.

According to Pete, student’s desire for privacy has driven Tech’s decision to allow Bitcoin transaction.

“At a basic level, PayPal adoption was driven by the fact that customers did not have to share their credit card information with merchants,” Pete said. “Bitcoin transactions inherently have a higher-level of anonymity.”

Since the use of a credit or debit card has previously been required to fund Buzzcard use, this new integration of Bitcoin will allow for greater confidentiality for students wishing to utilize campus services.

Another reason that BitPay is so attractive to Tech is that, unlike normal credit card institutions, it doesn’t assess any monthly or transaction fees. Chargebacks are also nonexistent. The company facilitates the exchange rate between Bitcoin and USD and assumes risks associated with this as well.

There is some interest regarding how digital currencies will interact with existing methods of digital payment, such as Apple’s ‘Apple Pay’. According to Pete, roughly 40 percent of Tech’s student population own an Apple iPhone, so an interaction between the two would be significant.

In terms of future utility, the Tech/BitPay partnership is actually quite promising, according to Pete..

“The opportunity exists to leverage the BitPay/Bitcoin acceptance program for the payment for student tuition, fees, room, board, and other expenses,” Pete said.

Pete also spoke about the situation that many international students find themselves in, which is having a majority of their personal capital in cash form.

“It would be much more secure for them to leverage Bitcoin to enable the portability of funds,” Pete said.

Roughly 20% of Tech’s students who come from a non-U.S. country.

Students wishing to get involved in all things relating to Bitcoin can now join Tech’s Bitcoin club, which had its first meeting on September 29. A relatively large number of 60 students showed up for a Bitcoin 101 session, demonstrating that interest for the digital currency is thriving on campus.