Today, Coinbase Co-founder Fred Ehrsam announced on twitter that any student that signs up on Coinbase with a school email account (the domain ending in .edu) will receive $10 worth of Bitcoin in their account for signing up. He then added the offer was for a limited time and that it would only work for select schools, yet he failed to provide a list of schools that would work. At this point, it seems that Coinbase is manually white-listing .edu domains. Many people on the Reddit post have been complaining about the offer not working for their schools, and few have reported success with the offer. Students from Notre Dame and UCLA have reported success, but many universities, including my own, do not yet function.
Fred Ehrsam has stated that they are still testing the system and plan to add more schools later. This promotion is likely a capitalization on MIT’s Student Bitcoin program that was recently started. This move allows Coinbase to attract college students to use their service. Coinbase is an online Bitcoin platform which allows users to buy and sell Bitcoin as well as gives merchants the tools needed to accept Bitcoin as payment for goods and services.
It is unclear what will happen with accounts that sign up from schools that are not currently added. If a school is added to the supported list schools for the offer, and that user is already registered under a school email account, they might not get the Bitcoin credited to their account once their school has been added to the Coinbase roster. It is also not clear how long the promotion will be live on the site and available to new users.
If the promotion is meant to have a long duration, it will need to be refined significantly in order to prevent abuse and provide full access. It is very simple to create a .edu email address for free in minutes. Creating false email accounts could allow users to abuse the system and continually claim the $10 bonus if the system is not well regulated. Many schools also offer the ability to create additional email accounts at no charge, which could also be used to abuse the system, especially if the university were white-listed on the approved university list. Coinbase’s Brian Armstrong has stated that abuse will be prevented.
The system currently lacks clarity and structure, information on the promotion is nowhere to be found on the Coinbase website, and the original tweet from Fred Ehrsam was removed. Fred himself was commenting on the Reddit post explaining how only certain school email address will work at the moment, and that more will be added later. Other Coinbase team members were also defending Coinbase in the Reddit thread. The promotion needs an official post on the Coinbase website and needs to be structured better. It should not have been announced in the state that it is in, now. It seems that more new users have experienced disappointment in Coinbase’s promotion than have enjoyed it. The promotion as it stands is poorly structured and possible to abuse. $10 is a significant amount of money, and the Coinbase team has specified that the promotion should be available to schools worldwide, not just in America. That being said, if every student eligible, even at this nascent stage, accepted their $10 Bitcoin credit, Coinbase’s giveaway would be much larger than MIT’s. Here’s hoping Coinbase refines this program and does it right. Spreading Bitcoin is always a commendable goal and Coinbase is in a great position to do this properly.