Illinois Embracing Cryptocurrency and Blockchain Education

More Illinois universities are starting to provide blockchain and digital currency education. Public interest in the revolutionary payment methods and their underlying technology continues to grow, even as the prices of many crypto assets have come down considerably in 2018.

Students Hungry for Bitcoin Knowledge

According to the Chicago Tribune, digital currency and related topics have become an important part of class discussions on finance and money. Previously, they had comprised a very small section of the syllabus.

Lamont Black, an assistant professor of both graduate and undergraduate classes, told the publication about the change in lesson plans. The DePaul lecturer stated that he had been teaching students about the subject as part of the final “fun day” of class at the end of the semester. Now, he claims:

“My students are starting the class thinking about it [cryptocurrency] now.”

Other Illinois universities are also following suit. Some are adding entire modules devoted to the subject whilst others are changing existing lesson plans to include more coverage of digital currency. Sarit Markovich, a professor at Northwestern University’s Kellog School of Management, explained about her institution’s decision to include a course on blockchain and cryptocurrency:

“It’s not so much about being ahead; it’s making sure that you’re not going to be behind.”

She started discussing the subject around five years ago. However, the students then were not that interested in the topic. She went on to mention that last year, that changed. Suddenly, her students were asking about fintech, blockchain, and digital currencies.

Markovich recently got approval to create a course entirely devoted to the study of cryptocurrency. She’s hoping to offer it to students in the Masters of Business Administration program next year.

The Illinois Institute of Technology is also poised to offer their own blockchain class this summer. Meanwhile, the University of Illinois is planning a discussion panel on Bitcoin later this month. It will be led by professor Gib Basset, the head of the finance department. The discussion will form part of the Chicago Exchanges MBA program.

The professor told the Chicago Tribune that it was pressure from the students that caused him to consider including the topic for the first time:

“They want to hear about Bitcoin. Their parents have told them it’s a tulip bubble… It’s crazy, it’s ridiculous, and their friends who invested three years ago are millionaires. … There’s clearly a generational component to this.”

It’s not just Illinois institutions that are beginning to offer more cryptocurrency courses, however. It seems to be a growing trend in universities around the world. Meanwhile, other centres of education are trying to get even younger students familiar with the topic. Union Catholic High School in Scotch Plains, New Jersey, have announced plans to introduce cryptocurrency classes, and a high school in Australia have a cryptocurrency education night for parents, teachers, and students.



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The long awaited launch of Chicago Board Options Exchange Bitcoin futures contracts went off with a bang yesterday as the website was knocked offline by a surge in traffic. The first contracts were offered at 18.00 EST on Sunday and an unprecedented demand overwhelmed the exchange.

CBOE Tweeted a status update which said “Due to heavy traffic on our website, visitors to may find that it is performing slower than usual and may at times be temporarily unavailable. All trading systems are operating normally.”

The site outage coincided with a surge in Bitcoin price at the time of launch. According to CoinDesk’s Bitcoin Price Index (BPI) it jumped from $14,509 at 22:59 UTC to $15,732 seven minutes later, 8.4% in a few minutes. Once the initial rush had subsided the CBOE website came back online and contracts started to sell. The exchange has listed some details on its Bitcoin futures offerings here.

Frustrated customers vented on social media, one Tweeting “Quite a pathetic launch of future on CBOE, it seems that the website crashed.” and another added: “CBOE site down eight minutes after Bitcoin launch.” It is often the case that organizations do not anticipate the level of traffic to their servers and do not make provisions for additional bandwidth. In recent weeks major exchanges such as Coinbase have gone offline due to high levels of traffic.

According to the CBOE website the XBT/F8 contract which expires next month is the most popular one with over 2540 already sold. The price determination is also explained on their website: “The single price settlement process gives participants the option of using XBT futures to hedge their exposure in underlying bitcoin or gain exposure to traded bitcoin prices without holding bitcoin.”

The first major regulated US exchange is now running Bitcoin futures and more will follow with CME Group launching their own contracts on December 18. Others are likely to develop their own offerings if these are successful, and looking at the initial reaction they will be. Company executives are hoping the CBOE will be able to launch other products centered around crypto currencies which could include exchange traded funds.

There has been a lot of critical sentiment over Bitcoin, mostly from Wall Street bankers who see it as a threat to their business model which largely revolves around controlling other people’s finances. Investors seem unperturbed at the moment the Bitcoin behemoth has bounced back from its 25% weekend slump to trade back towards the $16,500 level.


The US City of Chicago is the latest entrant into the fintech race after it found a place for itself in the recent study published by Deloitte — one of the “Big Four” consulting firms. The inclusion of Chicago into the list of fintech hubs follows the city’s recent achievements in promoting fintech and blockchain businesses.

According to the report, Chicago has grown into an epicenter for all the fintech related activities happening in the entire Midwest, totaling over 20,000 financial institutions. Few other facts presented in the report state that over 6% of the region’s total workforce is involved in financial services businesses. The positive effect of governance is not discounted either as the fintech sector enjoys the government’s support as well.

Many Chicago-based companies are heavily invested in fintech which includes the development of blockchain solutions. CME Group Inc., one of the leading names in the financial sector is a prime example of such involvement. The company is working closely with the British Royal Mint to create a distributed ledger based gold trading platform. The platform, built along with AlphaPoint and BitGo recently entered trials.

In a recent news report about the gold trading platform, the Head of Digitization at CME Group, Sandra Ro was quoted saying,

“This is the first digital gold product that is institutionally targeted – and the first to work with a government entity – to be currently in a live testing state… An RMG (Royal Mint Gold) is a digital representation of real gold sitting in the Royal Mint vaults.”

Meanwhile, to maintain the recently achieved status, Chicago recently got its own fintech incubator called FinTank. The incubator combined with co-working space not only provides support to fintech startups but also offers them a physical location to operate from. With five startups already onboard, FinTank is focusing on a range of verticals including blockchain, cybersecurity, big data and business intelligence, all of which form the pillars of today’s new-age financial applications.

However, there are few challenges ahead as well, which Chicago has to overcome in order to rise among the ranks. Fintech in Chicago is still a closed ecosystem, with almost zero presence of foreign startups. Other challenges include risk averse culture, low levels of knowledge sharing and insufficient capital availability. There are still few regulatory hurdles that might affect the future of Chicago as a leading fintech hub.

At the moment, the future of Chicago, as one of the leading fintech hub is looking healthy.

Ref: ChicagoInno | Law360 | Reuters | Points and Figures | Image: NewsBTC

The number of Bitcoin and Blockchain based start-ups are gradually increasing around the world. Blockchain technology has proven to be one of the most versatile technologies till date, which can disrupt the way a lot of industries currently work. Blockchain technology was originally created to act as a ledger for Bitcoin transactions across the network, but soon the technology was adopted for uses other than Bitcoin transactions.

As people catch up with changing times, it is necessary to make them understand about digital currency and the technology behind it. It will make the process of transition easier and increases Bitcoin adoption among the masses. Bitcoin Centers are established in various cities around the world to serve as Bitcoin information centers and also to facilitate the development and growth of start-ups.

Chicago has now become the latest city to get its own Bitcoin Center. Establishment of the new Chicago Bitcoin Center was announced yesterday during the Inside Bitcoins Conference. According to the announcement, the new Bitcoin Center is located in 1871. Named after the year of the great Chicago fire, 1871 is the home of over 300 technology start-ups in the city. Chicago Bitcoin Center couldn’t have asked for a better location as it aims to provide incubation services for Bitcoin based start-ups and entrepreneurs as well.

Chicago Bitcoin Center already has 4 confirmed Bitcoin based start-ups that are working from its premises. These start-ups include OasisCoin — A Bitcoin based remittance service provider, Red Leaf– Bitcoin ATMs operator, Gildera — offers merchant services and Bloq — working on Blockchain based data management applications.

The Chicago Bitcoin Center is being partially funded by Tally Capital, a local venture capital firm which is interested in encouraging and investing in Blockchain technology based start-ups. Start-ups supported by Chicago Bitcoin Center will receive office space in the premises along with opportunity to connect with local innovators and entrepreneurs who are part of the start-up ecosystem.

Bitcoin is going to experience some strong winds in July when Triple Zero Media brings the second North American Bitcoin Conference to Chicago.

The conference will take place on July 19-20 at Chicago’s beautiful McCormick Place in the South Building.

Early Bird Tickets are available now until May 15 for $225 and of course, you can pay in Bitcoin, after May 15th prices will go up to $275.

Moe Levin, the organizer of the event, was astonished about the interest that The North American Bitcoin Conference drew and wants to continue the success.

“Last conference was spectacular – we expected 750 people, but over 1200 people came. The biggest one yet in the states. Thankfully, we were able to scale it and open up extra rooms. We’re hoping to double that this time in Chicago.” – Moe Levin

The conference will feature over 40 speakers and panelists and will have workshops for merchants, startups exhibiting their latest developments and bank and government officials will be on hand to talk about Bitcoin regulations.

“Right now is a critical moment for Bitcoin. The world’s most independent currency just turned 5 and is entering a crucial phase in its development. In the last six months, the currency has dramatically increased in visibility and experienced the pros and cons of the limelight: rising acceptance with vendors and shoppers alongside scrutiny, regulations and fluctuating prices.” – Moe Levin

Moe also promises to make this conference just as fun as the one in Miami. If you went to the North American Bitcoin Conference in Miami you know about the parties at the Clevelander, and Chicago will be no different.

“The North American Bitcoin Conference has a proven track record of being light on fluff and heavy on content. Before and after the conference, however, we also like to let our hair down a bit and enjoy ourselves at our legendary conference pre-party.” – Moe Levin

For tickets and the most up-to-date news, visit:

[textmarker color=”C24000″]Source[/textmarker] BTCChicago

Chicago Sun Times Donation Wall

As planned, the Chicago Sun-Times has put in place a paywall, as originally reported in January. The paywall, which isn’t much of a paywall at all, to be honest, is a 24-hour testing trial that allows users to donate bitcoin to the Taproot Foundation.

Users are able to “donate” a tweet or donate bitcoins in the amount of their choosing. But a donation is not required to view Sun-Times content, at this time.

San Francisco-based bitcoin paywall company BitWall is behind this, and the Sun-Times has become the start-up’s biggest client thus far. The trial is designed to provide both the Sun-Times and BitWall critical data as to how readers will use the products on such a high-profile news publication’s website.

The paywall is expected to remain enabled throughout the remainder of Saturday, presenting itself to all visitors of the site.

Chicago Sun-Times Logo

The 9th most popular newspaper in the United States — the Chicago Sun-Times — will reportedly trial a bitcoin paywall for a 24-hour period on February 1st, making the publication the first major news media outlet to do so.

Readers of the publication will be prompted to either donation bitcoin or tweet in support of the Taproot Foundation (a non-profit that offers a number of marketing and management services to other non-profits) in order to gain access to the Sun-Times content.

It’s all coming together with a partnership with BitWall, the San Francisco-based start-up that builds bitcoin paywalls and helps publications monetize their content.

“The Chicago Sun-Times is showing its technological leadership by being the first major newspaper to adopt a social paywall and Bitcoin-powered monetization strategy,” says BitWall CEO Nic Meliones. “Bitcoin is an innovative technology well suited to online monetization.”

According to Jim Kirk, publisher and editor-in-chief at the Sun-Times, the publication looks to “continue to experiment and test new technologies that we believe engage [their] readers and look forward to being the first major USA newspaper to test a Bitcoin-based paywall.”

Read the press release.