media release

Digital currency on campus: buy Bitcoin and books at SFU

May 25, 2015

Mark McLaughlin, SFU Ancillary Services, 778.782.3950,
Michael Yeung, SFU Bitcoin Club, 604.762.0986,
Justin Wong, SFU University Communications, 778.782.3210,
Leo Dominguez, BitSent Inc., 226.339.6001,


Simon Fraser University is the first Canadian post-secondary institution to accept Bitcoin for the purchase of textbooks, and to install automated Bitcoin vending machines (AVMs) campus wide.

Bookstores at each of SFU’s three campuses in Vancouver, Burnaby, and Surrey, will now accept Bitcoin for the payment of retail transactions, and AVMs will be installed in these locations, allowing the public to purchase the virtual currency.   

“It is our mission to challenge and engage students and provide them with learning opportunities not only inside the classroom but also outside,” says Mark McLaughlin, SFU’s executive director of ancillary services. “SFU has one of North America’s most prominent Bitcoin student clubs and they have asked us to help introduce Bitcoin to the SFU community. As a university focused on innovation, we want to provide our students the opportunity to try digital currencies like Bitcoin through AVMs and within the bookstore and other retail locations on campus.”

The bookstores will begin to accept Bitcoin as a form of payment starting May 26. BitSent, a Canadian company, is providing the AVMs.

To celebrate the occasion there will be ribbon-cutting ceremonies and in-store promotions at each of the SFU bookstores:

Burnaby Bookstore: Tuesday May 26, 10 a.m.– 4 p.m. ribbon ceremony at 12 p.m.
Vancouver Bookstore:
 Wednesday May 27, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. ribbon ceremony at 12 p.m.
Surrey Bookstore:
 Thursday May 28, ribbon ceremony at 12 p.m.

Each bookstore will encourage patrons to use Bitcoin by giving the first 100 customers a $5 bookstore gift card—a minimum purchase of $20 is required. Additional prizes and gifts will also be handed out.

Creating a virtual currency ecosystem on campus is another example of SFU’s commitment to engaging and empowering its students to drive innovation within their communities.

“The coming era of virtual currencies is inevitable and exciting, no different than the early days of the Internet,” says Michael Yeung, founder of the SFU Bitcoin Club.

All of this is more than just using Bitcoin to buy textbooks or support academia. McLaughlin says it’s about fostering a dialogue about the future of currency and disruptive technologies. Vancouver is developing into the Canadian hub for digital finance and SFU wants to play an enabling role in its development, he notes.

“What we’re trying to do is get students to talk about innovation and try Bitcoin,” says McLaughlin. “The only way to have an opinion about digital currencies is to learn about it, and we are providing a first-hand experience in that regard.”

As Canada's engaged university, SFU is defined by its dynamic integration of innovative education, cutting-edge research and far-reaching community engagement.  SFU was founded almost 50 years ago with a mission to be a different kind of university—to bring an interdisciplinary approach to learning, embrace bold initiatives, and engage with communities near and far. Today, SFU is a leader amongst Canada's comprehensive research universities and is ranked one of the top universities in the world under 50 years of age. With campuses in British Columbia's three largest cities—Vancouver, Surrey and Burnaby—SFU has eight faculties, delivers almost 150 programs to over 30,000 students, and boasts more than 130,000 alumni in 130 countries around the world.


Simon Fraser University: Engaging Students. Engaging Research. Engaging Communities

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