Major US university receives $5M Bitcoin gift, immediately sells

The university accepted its first crypto donation from an alumnus in January.

The University of Pennsylvania received a $5 million donation in Bitcoin, which it has reportedly already exchanged for fiat.

According to the university, an anonymous benefactor gifted UPenn’s Wharton School of Business $5 million in Bitcoin (BTC) — roughly 118.46 BTC at the time of publication — which will be used to support the Stevens Center for Innovation in Finance. However, UPenn senior vice president of development and alumni relations John Zeller told MarketWatch that the university immediately liquidates all crypto donations, large and small.

“We sell it the moment it’s received,” said Zeller, adding that the university still had the option of HODLing.

The $5 million donation, reportedly one of the largest UPenn has received, went through crypto investment firm New York Digital Investment Group. While the university can accept other cryptocurrencies, its giving page states it requires a minimum $10,000 donation.

Zeller said UPenn wasn’t treating crypto as an investment vehicle, rather just a new way to make payments. It’s unclear if the recent market volatility played any role in the university’s decision to not HODL the crypto asset.

The university accepted its first cryptocurrency donation from an alumnus in January, according to Zeller. While not made in crypto, former MakerDAO contributor Nikolai Mushegian also gave his alma mater, Carnegie Mellon University, $4 million last year to develop a research program for decentralized applications.

Students at the Wharton School of Business have the opportunity to study the digital currency ecosystem through online programs on financial technologies. One such course features lectures and case studies on payments, crypto, blockchain technology and crowdfunding, among others.

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