Although this has been a bearish year for cryptocurrencies, that doesn’t mean that there hasn’t been tremendous interest with regards to blockchain technology. Specifically, all sorts of powerful and influential corporations have been exploring how they can apply blockchain to their company and sector. For example, Wal-Mart, one of the world’s largest retail corporations, is utilizing blockchain to track lettuce, Cargill, a food corporation with over 150,000 employees, is utilizing blockchain to track turkeys, and the tech giant IBM is exploring how to use blockchain with regards to the global payments sector.
As a result, there is more interest than ever with regards to learning about blockchain. Some of the most revered and conservative educational institutions already offer blockchain courses, including universities such as MIT and Cornell. Emin Gun Sirer, an Associate Professor at Cornell, was stunned at the level of interest when he noticed how many students showed up to learn about blockchain technology recently. He pointed out that while up to a dozen students would show up to a class that they found compelling; he was stunned to find out that almost ninety students were eager to learn about the subject.
The phenomenon is not limited to the United States. Specifically, the University of Tokyo, one of Japan’s most well-respected universities, is now officially offering a blockchain course. Unlike other Asian countries such as China or India, whose governments have openly criticized cryptocurrency – Japan has recognized Bitcoin as legal tender for some time now.
It’s important to note that the university received a sizable donation from a consortium that included The Ethereum Foundation, a Swiss non-profit associated with Ethereum. Another entity involved in the donation was Sumimoto Mitsui Banking Corporation, the country’s second largest bank by assets. The other entities that contributed to the course were these companies: Hotlink, Money Forward, Zipper, JSS, and Good Luck 3.
According to a statement, the course will be called the “Blockchain Innovation Donation Course”, and was launched on November 1. The course will continue until late 2021. The course specifically hopes to focus on how blockchain can be used societally.
The move is a logical one, considering that cryptocurrency jobs are booming in Asia, despite the fact that cryptocurrency prices are declining. Robert Walters, a global recruiting firm, pointed out that there was a 50% spike in roles related to blockchain and cryptocurrency. The phenomenon has also been reported in other countries in Asia such as India and Singapore. Indeed reported more interest in blockchain jobs than ever in the continent, as well, from 2017 to 2018.
Wharton Business school, which many consider the best business school in the United States, offers courses on Bitcoin, as well. Kevin Werbach, a professor at Wharton, stated specifically: “We’re at the point where there’s a critical mass to teach this domain. There will be a real phenomenon in business for the foreseeable future, and five years down the road there won’t be too many major business schools that don’t offer similar classes.”
In fact, even those individuals that have had high profiles in traditional finance roles seem to be interested more than ever in blockchain. For example, Gary Gensler, a former chair of the Commodity Futures Chair Trading Commission, that regulates futures and option markets in the U.S., recently stated on Bloomberg that “blockchain technology…has a real chance to be a catalyst for change in the world of finance”. He also pointed out that regulators should take a “technology neutral” approach to blockchain in order to promote innovation. Gensler was chairman of the CFTC from 2009 to 2014, under President Barack Obama.
He himself is now teaching about blockchain technology at MIT, one of the most prestigious universities in the world, and states, “The class is crowded. There’s a lot of people that want to know about this technology.”
The South Korean blockchain platform Fantom has also recently partnered with multiple universities to research new ways to research and apply blockchain technology. Earlier this month, the startup announced in a Medium post that it was collaborating with the University of Stellenbosch, the oldest public research university in South Africa, to serve as an “education and knowledge hub for blockchain technology.” Several days ago, the startup also announced a partnership with the University of Sydney, a public research university based in Sydney, Australia.
More universities will likely teach courses related to blockchain technology and cryptocurrency in the coming years. In fact, the cryptocurrency startup Ripple, which many consider to be one of the most important companies in the space, recently announced a partnership with 17 universities where it will be donating $50 million for the research and development of various blockchain projects. Ripple has developed a network for global payments, and the digital token XRP, which is one of the world’s largest cryptocurrencies by market capitalization. The company clarified that the research might involve XRP, but that the donation did not require this as a stipulation.