Of the many social clubs in Lipscomb, only one will accept your club dues via Bitcoin. Sigma Alpha pioneered the introduction of cryptocurrency into academic organizations.
Sigma Alpha debuted in 2019 and is a smaller, relatively newer club that takes pride in its recent innovation. Sean Hagan, a young philosophy student from Nashville, introduced the idea of incorporating Bitcoin.
Hagan is the club president and sees Bitcoin as a way for his young group to build their reputation as well as their finances. This fall was the first semester that members were able to pay their dues in Bitcoin instead of dollars.
“We have to find these creative solutions and these innovative ways to protect and maintain at least what we have, to potentially strengthen our purchasing power and increase what we are able to do,” Hagan said.
Bitcoin is a relatively new and upcoming currency that takes place entirely digitally. Unlike fiat money, government guaranteed money like the US dollar, there is no paper trail.
Even before its official creation in 2009, Bitcoin had a interesting and somewhat mysterious story.
“Bitcoin is a digital asset. It was created in the wake of the [economic] crises by man or entity under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto, ”Hagan said.
Nakamoto’s identity is entirely unknown. Prior to the creation of Bitcoin, they released a paper which explained its function and use.
“It’s built on the concept of digital scarcity,” Hagan said. “There are only 21 million bitcoins that will ever be available.”
Bitcoin’s defined value is what sets it apart from other value systems such as gold or fiat. Where countries are constantly printing more money and more gold is often discovered, Bitcoin will never exceed 21 million coins.
Its mobility is another factor unique to Bitcoin. It is stored in digital wallets and can be instantly transferred across the world. Sigma Alpha uses one of them known as the Lighting Portfolio. Hagan said they quantified them as the smallest units of Bitcoin, known as satoshi.
“If you want to pay in Bitcoin, we’ll just add it to our Bitcoin stack,” Hagan said. “So we have set up a lighting portfolio so that members who wish to send Bitcoin to us do so through the lighting network, and we will keep their membership fee.”
Hagan, being a strong supporter of Bitcoin, said that when he pitched the idea to other senior members of Sigma Alpha, it was easy to get support.
“When I explained this to our club, there was little to no pullback at all,” Hagan said. “[Other senior members] was instrumental in planning this, how to figure out how to actually go about it, and find a correct way to do it and bring it to life.
Another attraction of Bitcoin for Sigma Alpha members is its legitimacy.
Because of the way Bitcoin is structured, Hagan said, “it’s auditable, verifiable, transparent so you can see who is sending money where. You can verify that the transactions are genuine. There is also this safety net of authenticity built into the network.
Not only is Sigma Alpha taking dues with Bitcoin, they are also trying to increase their club’s overall holdings.
“Currently, we have 5% of our wealth stored in Bitcoin and we are looking for ways to increase that percentage in a responsible manner that would reflect the interests of all members of our club,” Hagan said.
As a concept, Bitcoin has intrigued many, but what is often overlooked is the process of mining Bitcoin. Since Bitcoin is cryptic, it is a digital mining process that involves algorithms and many numbers. Special computers are needed which use a large amount of power.
Only over 18 million available Bitcoin has been mined, and the value often fluctuates when it does. As Bitcoin grows, the debate over the environmental impact of mining has increased.
Hagan says that when mined with impure methods, like charcoal, it can be problematic. Hagan says that now that China has banned Bitcoin mining, he moves to the states, and the methods are improving.
States like Texas are trying to integrate this industry and encourage it with better processes. Other reviewers find that despite the improvements, it is still harmful.
Hagan said, “They are building this infrastructure responsibly that uses green energy like solar and hydroelectric power.”
He added: “I think [green energy] will continue to increase. I think as Bitcoin mining becomes more responsible and sustainable, it only makes the network stronger. ”
Sigma Alpha hopes their welcoming of Bitcoin will encourage other clubs and even individuals to follow suit.
“Do your own research,” Hagan said. “Start looking at what makes Bitcoin work, which makes it a viable solution. Why do people call it gold 2.0. “
As cryptocurrency has grown in popularity, people see it as a better option than the current system. El Salvador even adopted it as official currency.
“Push the limits, step into the 21st century,” Hagan said. “The US dollar is not really backed by anything. We are trying to show people that there is another way.