Bitcoin fever is at an all-time high — it was only a matter of time before it came to campus.
A new cryptocurrency club is coming to Western University in time for the 2018-19 academic year.
Adam Khimji, a fourth-year political science student, started thinking about cryptocurrency at Western during his summer break. After starting conversations with friends and others on campus, Khimji realized that there was a lot of interest on the topic.
“I thought about this club back in the summertime, and it was more of an idea that was floating by,” Khimji said. “But the more I would talk to someone about it, the more they would show their interest.”
Flash-forward to January of this year, and Khimji has created a club that deals with Bitcoin and cryptocurrency technology.
Its main goal is to bring together a community of people who are interested in the new technology. So far, over 60 people have tentatively signed up.
According to Jean-Philippe Vergne, an Ivey Business School professor, bitcoin and blockchain technology rose to prominence as a mainstream technology around 2013. Starting his own research in 2014, Vergne started offering classes to Ivey students on the subject.
The first semester that he taught the course roughly 30 students signed up. By the next year over 120 students were interested, and he was asked to teach the class year-round.
“I know at other schools like Western and other universities, there is a huge demand for courses around blockchain,” Vergne said. “It is a very hot topic these days; the students are very interested in the convergence of these technologies that they see happening all over the place.”
Khimji said that the initial response to the club was surprising. It wasn’t just business students, like he expected, but students from all different faculties. One of them was a PhD candidate for neuroscience. Next, Khimji wants to organize events with speakers from a variety of different fields, like business and political science.
“Bitcoin, cryptocurrency, it’s not just upsetting the financial industry. It’s also upsetting politics because it’s unregulated," Khimji said. "It’s very broad, so that’s why it’s going to be a lot of seminar-based stuff.”
Khimji is waiting for the club to be officially ratified by the University Students' Council but promises that the club will be created no matter the outcome.