Cryptocurrency is a non-government issued commodity that operates much the same as precious metals like gold and silver. The most prominent form of cryptocurrency, known as “bitcoin,” uses encryption techniques to regulate the generation of units of virtual currency.
CCFU’s President and Co-founder Ryan Chand, GSB ’17, “Bitcoin is a totally virtual currency started after the financial crisis  with the hopes of bringing in a decentralized way to control our money. So we fast forward, I think about seven years now, and bitcoin has grown into a couple hundred million dollar industry.”
A total of 21 million units of currency, or bitcoins, can ever be created and are released onto the market or discovered at a decreasing rate. The scarcity of the resource makes it valuable.
Bitcoin emerged as a notable form of currency because of its use on the deep web, says CCFU’s Chief Technology Officer Kevin Leffew, GSB ’17.
“While users of dark websites — like ‘Silk Road’ — may have accounted for the early adoption segment for the currency, the majority of these sites have been shut down.” Leffew said. “In order for the currency to achieve mainstream success, fintech firms (think Paypal and Venmo) must build platforms which facilitate mobile transactions on the block chain, making the exchange from Bitcoin to USD a seamless experience for users.”
Chand equates the blockchain to the banks and credit card companies that verify transactions on credit cards. The difference is that banks and card companies operate for fees or percentages, while the blockchain provides low cost and anonymous verification for transactions. “The blockchain is essentially a permanent ledger where computers verify transactions multiple times to prove they’re real. It removes the sense of an authoritative agency, which is very disruptive,” he said.
As a largely unexplored currency, bitcoin’s major issues include its volatility, degree of acceptance and ongoing development. The currency is still in its early stages, so bitcoin is subject to variable and inconsistent values (as a commodity, similar to the variable price of gold,) it is not widely accepted by businesses, and the technology and practices surrounding bitcoin are still being developed.
However, bitcoin is gaining ground towards becoming a widely accepted currency. The New York State Department of Financial Services issued its first license to a company dealing in bitcoin on Sept. 22. Also, major companies such as Microsoft accept bitcoin as a form of payment.
CCFU will provide members with a bitcoin starter pack that aims to get students up to speed with the relatively new technology. The starter pack will include a list of prominent firms that deal with bitcoin and a copy of the original white paper in which the creator Satoshi Nakamoto outlined the formula for bitcoin.
Meetings will help members understand the implications of bitcoin as a disruptive technology, as well as teach members how to operate a bitcoin wallet and get a job in the emerging industry. CCFU will bring in notable speakers in the field for networking opportunities.
The club’s ultimate goal is to host a conference of the College Cryptocurrency Network (CCN), an international student-run organization that began as a coalition of bitcoin clubs at Stanford University, MIT and University of Michigan in 2014. CCFU’s Kevin Leffew says a CCN conference could help establish Fordham as a leading University for studying cryptocurrency and the blockchain.
“I too believe the concept of money and the way it will be exchanged in the future is a hot and ever changing topic,” said Dr. Christine Janssen, CCFU’s advising professor and the Director of GSB’s Entrepreneurship Program. “I commend students who are willing to break out of the usual mold – including clubs – to create something new that is relevant to both the students and to the changing face of business.”
Note: A quote on the deep web was corrected to reflect accuracy of the interview and terminology.